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What Are Financial Institutions Doing To Protect Seniors From Fraud?

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Case after case is being reported of seniors losing their life savings and homes because they are no longer mentally capable of making sound financial decisions. More than just making poor decisions, they are frequently the target of others taking advantage of the situation. Adult social service agencies report that 25 to 35% of perpetrators are often acquaintances, friends or family members. Sadly, many of the victims are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and so they are easily taken advantage of. Many families make the right decision by placing their elderly loved ones who are suffering from dementia in an Assisted Living Dementiafacility. All the seniors needs are taken care of on a day to day basis pertaining to their condition, so families no longer have to worry or be concerned for their safety and well being.

New research shows that one of the first signs of impending dementia is the inability to understand money and credit, contracts and agreements. Those suffering may unbeknownst to spouses or other family members, suddenly cease to pay their bills, sign contracts or transfer funds in poor judgment. Worst yet, many fail to monitor their savings or bank accounts making them prime targets for fraud. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest nongovernmental regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States, recently met with individual financial services companies and the Alzheimer’s Association to formulate guidelines on how to deal with clients who have trouble remembering and reasoning, a problem that is not new but is increasing as the population ages.

Last year, Fidelity Investments surveyed 350 investment advisers. The advisors were asked if they suspected that any of their clients had Alzheimer’s or diminishing cognitive function, and if so, what they did about it. The advisers also were asked if they had mentioned the problem to their clients. 84 percent said they thought they had clients with Alzheimer’s or symptoms indicating that they were developing it. In addition, 96 percent said they did not feel prepared to deal with those clients. Half said they were not comfortable even raising the subject of dementia. They worried that they might be wrong about a client’s mental capacity, and even if they were right, they did not know what they were supposed to do about it or where to refer the client for assessment and help.

Money Rules Man by `BenHeine on deviantART

Several bankers associations have undertaken campaigns to educate bank employees on how to recognize and prevent financial exploitation. The Utah Bankers Association in cooperation with the State Division of Aging and Adult Services developed and conducted “train the trainer” workshops for bank tellers on how to recognize exploitation and the state mandated their obligation to report suspected abuse. Additionally, The Oregon Bankers Association launched an initiative in partnership with the State Attorney General’s office, AARP and a state social service agency to train bankers on how to identify suspicious activity. Assisted Living DementiaFacilties are also pro active about helping family members effectively interact and cope with dementia patients. By spreading awareness about the symptoms and forms of dementia it can help those seniors suffering from it, lead as fulfilling a life as possible.

The Nevada Bankers Association also distributes handouts with tips for consumers and bank employees that include contact numbers to report suspicious activities. Union Bank of California has produced a video which portrays several scenarios to point out signs of elder fraud to employees. The California Community Partnership for the Prevention of Financial Abuse is the state’s first public/private partnership initiative developed in response to the increasing social problem. Their mission includes:

  • Training employees of financial institutions to recognize and report suspected abuse
  • Raising community awareness through regional campaigns
  • Increasing communication between banks/credit unions, adult protection service and law enforcement agencies
  • Educating and empowering seniors
  • Becoming a funding source for the many underfunded and understaffed programs in communities who support abuse prevention

Financial institutions have the unique opportunity to witness financial abuse. They administer accounts, trusts and other assets. Branch employees become familiar with their customers’ spending habits such as denominations and amounts of money withdrawn on a regular basis. Because of the familiarity, they can also detect a decline in a senior customers’ ability to conduct transactions. There are currently civil, criminal and welfare and institution codes to protect banks and financial institutions from any liability when reporting suspected elder financial abuse.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Houston and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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