The Bank of Monroe and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) are providing tips for preventing the disturbing trend of elder financial abuse in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
Older Americans lose roughly $3 billion to a growing number of scams each year, according to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. But only one in 44 cases get reported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, putting the true cost as high as $35.5 billion annually.
“As financial stewards of the community and trusted lenders, The Bank of Monroe takes a number of preventative steps to identify, prevent and report suspicious activity for the protection of our customers,” said Jim King, President and CEO of The Bank of Monroe. “But we want to ensure all Monroe and Greenbrier residents are equipped to recognize the warning signs and take steps to protect themselves or their loved ones so together we can stop bad actors from robbing millions of Americans of their financial nest egg.”
We offer the following suggestions to help curb the rising tide of elder financial abuse:
- Secure private information (Social Security card, passport, bank account numbers, financial statements, medical records, and other legal documents), in a bank safety deposit box.
- Check your bank accounts and bill statements carefully. If you notice unauthorized charges or unusual activity, alert your bank immediately.
- Do not disclose personal information, such as bank account numbers or PINs, to anyone in a phone call, letter, email, fax or text message claiming to be from an established organization, especially if they ask you to wire funds or send private information.
- Ask your local community bank about available resources to help protect you or your loved ones from scams and exploitation.
- Plan ahead by giving a trusted person the legal authority to make financial decisions for you if you are unable. Make sure your bank has a record of who can manage your money on your behalf.
- Contact your local adult protective services agency and law enforcement if you have information about a fraud or suspect you may have encountered financial abuse.
“Community bankers are often relied upon as the front line of defense in the protection of their customers and as providers of prevention education and information for elderly customers and their adult children,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “Call on your local community banker, to help identify prevalent scams and safeguard your hard-earned financial future.”