Financial elder abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year. While that statistic is enormous in itself, the fact that you or someone you know could potentially fall victim of this growing crime in America is even more unsettling. That’s why there’s a day dedicated to preventing elder abuse, Annual World Elder Abuse Prevention Day, on June 15 every year.
In 2015, the Nebraska Bankers Association (NBA) pledged to empower customers and communities with the facts, tools, and best practices they need to bank more securely. To do so, the NBA began participating in the American Bankers Association Foundation’s Safe Banking for Seniors campaign. Because we take this role seriously, we are encouraging you as financially responsible Nebraskans to join the NBA in preventing elder exploitation. You can do this by getting educated, staying alert, raising awareness, and speaking out about this injustice.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder abuse is the intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that causes (or potentially causes) harm to a vulnerable elder. Here are some basic facts about financial elder abuse:
Now that you know the basic signs of financial elder abuse, who’s likely to abuse, and who’s likely to be abused, it’s time to apply your knowledge to make a difference. Because people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation's wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics every day to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans.
Therefore, we challenge you to stay alert about the possibility of the vulnerable adults in your life being financially exploited. These adults can include your relatives, those living in your home or neighborhood, or those employed at your workplace. Additionally, seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races are at risk for this type of abuse. Additionally, while many target the wealthier older generation, abusers go for middle-class seniors too.
You don’t necessarily have to shout from the rooftops about the wrongfulness of financial elder abuse to raise awareness. In fact, the NBA would like to see financially responsible adults raise awareness by ensuring that their parents, spouse, and/or children are educated. Speak with them about the signs of financial elder abuse, who is likely to abuse, and who is likely to be abused.
When this knowledge is applied, you may find yourself in a position to make a difference in a senior’s financial life, which is when it becomes necessary to report the abuse at hand.
Report suspected fraud against seniors toll free to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at 855-652-1999 (Nebraska adult and child abuse and neglect hotline/Adult Protective Services).
Report suspected fraud against seniors toll free to the Senate Aging Committee at 855-303-9470 (national anti-fraud hotline).
What to Report:
After a Report:
If a report rises to the level of maltreatment requiring investigation, it will be assigned to a local caseworker. The caseworker will visit the vulnerable adult and:
Every older American has the right to live their life free from the fear of abuse. By getting educated, staying alert, raising awareness, and speaking out, the NBA is confident the people of our state can minimize this rapidly-growing crime. I encourage you as a financially responsible adult to take a stand with the NBA in fighting financial elder abuse not only on June 15, but every day of the year.
Richard J. Baier
Proud husband, father of two, and the president/CEO of the Nebraska Bankers Association (NBA). Avid about growing the Cornhusker State's banking industry.