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Helping Customers Avoid Financial Abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 15 June, is a day taken particularly seriously by Heartland. As New Zealand’s leading provider of reverse mortgages, a product designed for people 60 and over, Heartland understands the potential vulnerability of its customers and places significant importance on its duty of care for customers.

According to Age Concern New Zealand, elder abuse hits much closer to home than people may think – in New Zealand, 1 in 10 people aged over 65 will experience some form of elder abuse, with 79% of alleged abusers being family members.

Andrew Ford, Heartland’s General Manager- Reverse Mortgages, explained that everyone should feel safe and free of harm and coercion when making financial decisions.

“Taking out a Reverse Mortgage is a financial decision that should be carefully considered,” explained Ford. “Because of this, we require all customers to obtain independent legal advice, and encourage them to seek financial advice – we also carefully look out for any signs of potential financial abuse.”

“Our people are trained to identify any potential signs of vulnerability along with situations where there is not a clear benefit for our customer.”

Ford explained that Heartland has significant safeguards and processes in place to ensure customers are protected throughout the decision-making process, and for the duration of their loan.

“The Heartland Reverse Mortgage team receives numerous enquiries from children of potential customers. The vast majority are trying to help their parents live a more comfortable retirement. Our processes ensure our customers make an informed decision and that they benefit from the loan.”

If there are concerns about whether or not the customer may be experiencing any type of financial abuse, Heartland may delay or not offer the loan, request permission to speak with other family members, or in some instances, contact the police to arrange a welfare visit or in regard to fraud.

Heartland also protects customers by offering:

  • a lifetime occupancy promise – ensuring customers can continue to own and live in their home for as long as they choose
  • a no negative equity guarantee – meaning the amount required to repay the loan will never exceed the net sale proceeds of the property
  • an equity protection option – allowing customers to choose to protect a percentage of the eventual net sale proceeds of the home
  • a 30-day cooling off period – allowing customers 30 days to change their mind (in which case, the customer can repay their loan in full, and Heartland will refund the application fee).

Heartland’s protections and commitment to Reverse Mortgage customers have been recognised through its Consumer Trusted accreditation, which it has been awarded four years in a row after meeting the strict Consumer Trusted Code of Conduct.

Heartland has helped more than 18,000 Kiwis to live a more comfortable retirement by releasing equity from their homes. Find out more about Heartland’s Reverse Mortgage at www.heartland.co.nz/reverse-mortgage or watch the video here.

Lending criteria, fees and charges apply.

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