Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. Elder financial abuse is a community problem which will likely increase with an ageing population. By 2055, one in four Australians will be over 65.
Banks are very used to picking up where their older customers are being financially abused. However, the more people are aware of it being common, the more chance there is the incidence of elder financial abuse can be reduced.
Elder financial abuse can be hard to detect, so it’s very important to be aware of how people might be taking advantage of their parents, loved ones or friends.
Financial abuse can take many forms, including spending money without permission, forging signatures, coercing someone to sign something, pension-skimming, using a person’s bank card without permission as well as denying them access to their own money or bank statements.
If you’re concerned you are being coerced or taken advantage of financially, banks welcome it if you contact them about it. Work with your bank!
Banks often get a bad rap but they are taking elder financial abuse very seriously. They give specialised training to staff to help them to recognise warning signs and how to support customers. They also use computer programs to identify suspicious transactions and to report suspected abuse to the relevant authorities.
Banks can help with measures to protect your finances, like setting up co-signatory accounts, pre-set transactions limits, transaction notifications and blocks on overseas transactions.
If you are the victim of elder financial abuse and live in New South Wales, you can contact the NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline on 1800 628 221.