Approximately 6.8 million Americans use canes and other devices to assist with their mobility whether due to age or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, the older a person becomes, their chronic conditions become hazards not only to their health, but also to their financial security.
Thursday, June 15th marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day created by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations as a way to increase awareness regarding the neglect and abuse of seniors. Elder abuse can take many forms, from physical abuse in nursing homes to identity theft perpetrated by cyber criminals. This year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will focus on the topic of financial abuse and fraud, crimes which cost older Americans up to $36.5 billion every year.
Sadly, to many con artists and hackers, the elderly make a convenient target.
“Banks are on the front line for detecting signs of financial abuse, such as changes in typical banking patterns, uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money and sudden insufficient funds,” said Joseph Snyder, director of Older Adult Protective Service at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, to the Huffington Post. “Collaborating with law enforcement, social workers, banks and community agencies is essential to prevent senior financial exploitation.”
Banks are making it a priority to protect the finances of the elderly from financial abuse through the enhanced training of bankers and new technologies that increase the ability to detect fraud as it happens. According to TapInto, “Banks maintain a wide variety of internal protocols and procedures to protect customers from this abuse. The types of warning signs bankers look for include unusual account activity, unpaid bills or eviction notices, suspicious signatures, new ‘best friends,’ and new powers of attorney or altered wills.”
But why are seniors suffering from such a high amount of financial abuse in contrast to the rest of America? Many older Americans aren’t aware of it, but 70% of the nation’s wealth is controlled by Americans over the age of 50, which places them high up on the list of potential theft victims. Additionally, seniors often have to rely on the help of others and their limited mobility, chronic conditions, and cognitive decline puts them at risk of those who would have no problem exploiting them.
If one of your loved ones is elderly and suffering from a chronic condition, help them with their medical papers and provide an extra set of eyes for their finances. The Banking Industry may be able to assist in detecting fraud and financial abuse, but you may be able to keep it from happening before it can start.