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Taking steps to prevent financial elder abuse

17 June 2016

Taking steps to prevent financial elder abuse

As part of Elder Abuse Awareness Week the New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) is encouraging people to look out for signs of financial elder abuse. Financial elder abuse is the illegal or improper use of older people’s money, property and other assets.

“Elder abuse takes advantage of people’s trust and vulnerability. Over the past three years, more than 50% of elder abuse cases seen by Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Services were about financial abuse,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman.

“With New Zealand’s ageing population it’s important for us all to be aware of the risks to older people, to know what to look for, and where to get help. Often older people are exploited by family or others they have close relationships with, or fall victim to scams by con artists. We each have a responsibility to support older people, to be aware of how they may be targeted and to assist them in protecting themselves,” Ms Scott-Howman said.

Common examples of financial elder abuse include:
· Unauthorised taking of money or possessions

· Misuse of powers of attorney

· Failure to repay loans

· Use of home and assets without permission or contributing to costs

· Scams that rely on establishing a relationship with an older person with the intention of exploiting their savings, assets or personal information.

“Older people play an important role in our local communities, and are valued banking customers. Banks take steps to look after their older customers’ well-being by looking out for signs of financial abuse, and of course, treating them with respect,” Scott-Howman said.

NZBA has published voluntary guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers. They include encouraging banks to provide training to staff on how to recognise signs of potential financial abuse while being sensitive to customers’ situations and wishes.


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