June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month: Protecting Seniors from Financial Scams

June 25, 2024

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, a crucial time to bring our attention to the importance of protecting seniors from financial scams. Financial abuse is the fastest-growing form of elder abuse, and it’s our collective responsibility to safeguard elderly loved ones from such exploitation. Community banks are in a unique position to help shield elderly customers against these prevalent threats through employee training and the use of technology to spot red flags and report suspicious activity to authorities. At Bennington State Bank, we are dedicated to helping prevent elder financial abuse and ensuring seniors feel secure and supported in their financial affairs.

Understanding Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse involves the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets. This can range from outright theft and scams to more subtle forms of exploitation, such as coercing or misleading an elderly person into signing financial documents. The perpetrators can be strangers, caregivers, or even family members, making vigilance and proactive measures essential.

Common Types of Elder Financial Scams

1. Phishing Scams:

Scammers often use emails, text messages, and phone calls to trick seniors into providing personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or passwords. These phishing attempts can appear very convincing, often posing as trusted entities like banks, government agencies, or well-known companies. As a good rule of thumb, never share personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you. Never click on links from unsolicited emails or texts. If you suspect a problem with an account, contact the bank or service provider directly.

2. Telemarketing Scams:

Telemarketers may call seniors, offering fraudulent services or products, or asking for donations to fake charities. They often pressure the elderly into making quick decisions or providing credit card information over the phone.

3. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams:

Scammers pose as Medicare or medical supply representatives to try to obtain personal information or offer fake services to bill Medicare for fraudulent services. They may also call or visit seniors claiming to offer health insurance or medical services, requiring upfront payments or personal details to enroll.

4. Impersonation Scams:

Scammers impersonate loved ones in distress, contacting seniors through phone calls, emails or social media, claiming to need urgent financial help due to an emergency. They may pose as grandchildren, children, or other relatives, exploiting the senior’s compassion and desire to help famly members in need. Create a unique family code word or phrase that can be used to verify one’s identity.

     -Choose a unique word or phrase that’s easy for everyone in your family to remember, but hard for outsiders to guess
     -Share with your family and close friends only

5. Investment Scams:

Fraudulent investment opportunities promising high returns with little risk are targeted at seniors, persuading them to invest their savings into non-existent or high-risk ventures.

6. Romance Scams:

Scammers create fake profiles on social media or dating websites to build relationships with seniors, eventually convincing them to send money for various fabricated reasons, such as emergency expenses or travel costs.

7. Home Repair Scams:

Fraudsters may offer unnecessary or overpriced home repairs, or take payment upfront and then disappear without completing the work. This type of scam often targets elderly homeowners.

8. New or unfamiliar charges 

Beware of any “new bills” or charges you’re not familiar with.  Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.

Ernie Beaudet, Business Development Loan Officer, Bennington State Bank

Tips to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse 

To protect the seniors in your life from financial abuse, it’s important to implement proactive measures and maintain open communication. Here are some essential tips:

1. Monitor Financial Accounts

Regularly checking bank statements and financial accounts can help detect unusual activity early. Look for:

  • Large, frequent, or unexplained withdrawals
  • Sudden changes in banking habits
  • Unfamiliar charges or checks made out to cash

2. Set Up Alerts

Enable account alerts for:

  • Large transactions
  • Changes in contact information
  • Suspicious activities

These alerts will help you stay informed about your loved one’s financial activities and promptly address any irregularities.

3. Educate About Scams

Discuss common financial scams with elderly loved ones, emphasizing the importance of:

  • Never giving out personal information or financial details over the phone, email, or text
  • Being cautious of unsolicited offers or requests for money
  • Consulting a trusted family member or advisor before making any financial decisions

4. Use Trusted Advisors

Ensure that any financial advisors or caregivers involved are trustworthy and reputable. Conduct background checks, verify credentials, and seek references to confirm their reliability.

5. Regular Communication

Maintain regular communication with elderly loved ones to stay informed about their well-being and financial status. Encourage them to share any concerns or suspicious activities they may encounter.

Ernie Beaudet, Business Development Loan Officer, Bennington State Bank

Elder financial abuse is a serious and growing concern, but with awareness, vigilance, and proactive measures, we can help protect our seniors from exploitation. At Bennington State Bank, we are committed to supporting our elderly community members and ensuring their financial security. By monitoring financial accounts, setting up alerts, educating about scams, using trusted advisors, and establishing legal protections, we can create a safer environment for our seniors.

Let’s work together to protect our seniors and ensure their golden years are filled with respect, dignity, and security. For more information and resources, visit our website or contact us directly.

If you suspect elder abuse, it is crucial to report it immediately to the appropriate authorities. Early intervention can prevent further exploitation and protect the victim from additional harm.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of a scam, contact the Bennington State Bank Team at 888-827-1887.

Together, we can make a difference and prevent elder financial abuse.

We are here to help!

Feel free to contact us if you have questions!


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