Credit unions launch initiatives to curb elder financial abuse

Senior Woman PhoneCredit unions across the country have recently launched a number of initiatives aimed at curbing the escalating problem of elder financial abuse, including staff training for identifying and reporting abuse, fraud detection software and community outreach.

Research from MetLife showed that elder financial abuse has risen 12 percent from $2.6 billion lost in 2008 to nearly $3 billion lost in 2010. Lawmakers have offered up legislation designed to protect the elderly population, with 22 states enacting some sort of legislation that requires financial institutions to report suspected abuse.

Pacific Service Credit Union in California was recognized by the National Credit Union Administration last month for its activities in combating elder financial abuse. The institution also received recognition for providing abuse recognition training and state-wide forums.

Montana’s state credit union league has worked closely with the state legislature to establish new laws to protect seniors. Two new laws were passed this year that make it easier for the prosecution to prove that a senior citizen has been the victim of financial fraud.

North Carolina-based Champion Credit Union hosted a conference last month on elder fraud and financial exploitation, inviting speakers from the attorney general’s office, social services and postal services to provide information on avoiding scams and financial exploitation.

Last year, Bellco Credit Union in Colorado partnered with Filene Research Institute to establish the Senior Sentry program, which takes indicators of elder financial abuse and applies them to member account monitoring to generate alerts.

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