20 Years Later...
Next year I will 'celebrate' starting my own corporation 20 years ago. It doesn't seem that long since I worked in my old bank - which no longer exists. It disappeared three mergers ago.
But some memories remain. One, very vivid one, still disturbs me. It concerned one of our very elderly depositors. She had been a customer at a local bank in my hometown for going on 50 years - long before we bought it. She was a widow, living alone, when I got the call from the branch. The daughter was in trying to close all of her mother's accounts, and the signature on the power of attorney "...didn't look right", according to the branch manager. As there was close to $70,000 involved, the branch manager kept the daughter busy while I telephoned our depositor. She was in tears. She had been forced to sign the power of attorney by her daughter, who she said slapped her. She hung up on me when her son-in-law came in the room and I could hear him demanding her to tell him who she was talking to.
We refused the power of attorney, and shortly were visited by the son-in-law, who was a lawyer. He demanded that we honor the power. It was easy for me to refuse him, of course. I was on the other end of the phone - not standing across the desk from him.
We tried to get help. It's a long story. But bottom line was that she came in with the daughter one day all smiles. She was moving to another state and going to live with them and everything was just peachy.
Two months later she called again - collect. They had put her in a home, and left with all her money. She begged me to "...do something."
I still hear that phone conversation every now and then in my memory.
You, dear reader, are probably aware that your subscription to this newsletter gives you the privilege of calling this office for help. If we don't have answers, we'll do our darndest to get them for you. And you do call - about all sorts of problems.
One was about a scam perpetrated on a lady in Bluffton, South Carolina. She received a phone call telling her she had won $500,000 from the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. All she had to do to claim it was wire $2,950 to cover part of the taxes. If he had stopped there, he might even have gotten his money. But he went on to say he would arrive at the Bluffton airport to deliver the check personally. There is NO airport in Bluffton, South Carolina! That made her suspicious enough to check to ask questions - and save her money.
Others call with stories similar to mine. Just the other day I received a call from Florida about a depositor who my caller said was "...the sweetest little ole southern gal you'd ever want to meet." Unfortunately, she was also very gullible, and was trying to withdraw a lot of money to invest in a 'sure thing' that would also help flood victims. Even I'm not sure exactly how this scheme was supposed to work, but we stalled on the phone long enough that the 'business man' who was working as her 'financial advisor' went out to his car to get something and disappeared. If this had happened in my bank 20 years ago, we could have done little but give our depositor a ride home and hope she had family she could talk to. But this is 20 years later. And help is available. I advised my caller to go on the Internet, make a call, and get help. If you remember nothing else of what is in this issue of your BANKERS' HOTLINE, remember this website.www.elderabusecenter.org
If you have a situation where you feel your depositor is being scammed or abused, go on the web site. Click on your state. Find your state's telephone number where you can get help for your depositor if he or she might need it. Most even have a hotline. You would be astonished at the number of cons and scams are being perpetrated on the elderly. Help where you can.How I wish we'd had this source 20 years ago.
Copyright © 2005 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 15, No. 11, 11/05
First published on 11/01/2005