By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management
Next week on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is promoted. Notice I didn’t say “celebrated” as no one is cheering that older persons continue to be taken advantage of, right in our own communities. Financial exploitation continues to be a problem, but there are some tools credit unions can use to assist with recognizing it.
Since “elderly” is defined as anyone over 60, a large percentage of Montana credit union members qualify. Here are some steps we recommend you consider as a minimum:
- Scam Checklist. Asking questions of older members involved in large-dollar transactions can be awkward, but it might also save them from losses and financial hardship and help them protect their pride and assets. This checklist provides some good information on areas to ask about as well as other ways your members can protect themselves from scammers.
- Train Staff. Montana has unique laws that can help you delay transactions and reach out to other family members when you suspect a member over 60 is being taken advantage of. Use our Compliance Training Tools page (Elder Financial Exploitation section) to access pre-recorded webinars and find links to resources. Training also helps provide liability protection to your credit union if red flags are missed.
- Report Fraud. In addition to guidance from federal regulators that encourages reporting, the National Elder Fraud Hotline offers free help to people age 60 and older who may have been victims of financial fraud. They can reach the hotline by calling 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311) between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. MT seven days a week. Credit union employees who suspect a member is being taken advantage of can call it too.
Using your website, newsletters, and social media to warn members of scams can be effective in some cases. There is also the opportunity to get into local assisted living or community centers to raise awareness and help stop this terrible crime. Let me know if I can help out in any way with materials or presentations.