Congress passed the Senior Safe Act in 2018 to help prevent financial exploitation of older U.S. citizens. As noted by AARP, the Act encourages employees of financial institutions to report suspicions of elder abuse.
A review of a senior’s account history and recent transactions may uncover unusual spending habits. The unfamiliar financial activity could reflect a need to speak with law enforcement.
Reporting on questionable financial activity involving seniors
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website notes that institutions reported more than $3.4 billion worth of questionable activity involving seniors in 2020. The reports included attempts to swindle money from seniors by depositing fraudulent checks.
The AARP Public Policy Institute revealed that on average, financial exploitation victims lose at least $120,000 each year. To help prevent seniors from fraud or exploitation, financial institutions must take steps to protect their customers by detecting abuse.
Recognizing common symptoms of elder abuse or exploitation
The Senior Safe Act requires financial institutions to train their employees to recognize warning signs of elder abuse. As reported by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, common signs include a senior writing a check to a stranger or using an ATM at unusual times.
As individuals grow older, they may face a greater likelihood of issues involving judgment and memory. Some seniors become more vulnerable to financial exploitation.
Families may also take steps to protect their assets and estates from fraud. Creating a durable power of attorney (“POA”), for example, is essential if the time comes that an individual needs assistance with financial transactions. A POA designates a trusted individual (“agent”) who has the authority to manage a senior’s affairs. Families may then monitor spending and hold an exploitative agent accountable. An agent under a POA has a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the individual. Transferring assets to trusts is another form of financial protection.