Bankers Play Key Role in Detecting Elder Financial Abuse
Bankers, health care providers, lawyers and financial planners all play an important role in discovering if their customers are victims of elder financial abuse.
More than 200 social workers, law enforcement officers, bankers and attorneys recently attended the Attorney General’s Conference on Elder Financial Abuse to educate each other and to find solutions on how to prevent elder financial abuse.
Jerry Wiesmueller, retired corporate security director at M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank, Milwaukee, spoke at the conference in Green Bay about the role financial institutions play in combating financial abuse. He emphasized to the group that bankers are diligently working to prevent financial elder abuse, because bankers know firsthand that “scammers rarely keep their money in the bank. They like to spend it.”
Sixty percent of elder financial abuse cases involve family members and 22 percent of cases involve abuse of power-of-attorney authority, according to John Hendrick of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups.
“Financial abuse cases are messy,” said Scott Martin, from the Area Agency on Aging of Dane County. Such situations often lead to the loss of an entire lifetime of savings, he added.
Martin and other speakers emphasized that banks have been helpful in uncovering these cases and gave AnchorBank, Madison, a “big gold star” for their help in several cases in Dane County.
Presenter Betsy Abramson of the UW-Law School and Elder Law Clinic provided several indicators of financial exploitation:
Destruction or removal of individual’s bank book, safe deposit box key, credit cards, correspondence or bills.
Apparent changes in spending habits.
The purchase of items by a family member or caretaker that is of no benefit to the older person, such as a new sports car or a boat.
Missing pension, stock or government payments or documents.
Bills or checks no longer being received at the usual address.
Hoarding behaviors by an older person, such as keeping important papers in bags.
Implausible explanations from older adults on what are doing with their money.
The “hardest group to go after” and most difficult to detect are children and grandchildren that move in with the parent or grandparent to take care of them, but end up spending the older adult’s money, Abramson said.
Hendrick will talk about ways that bankers can detect and stop elder financial abuse at the WBA Consumer Education Conference on Oct. 24 in Madison. To register, contact WBA’s Becky Weix at 608/441-1250.
Clarification on Elder Abuse Reporting
Bankers recently received needed clarification on what information they can disclose about elder financial abuse and still comply with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s customer privacy provisions.
WBA, working with the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, had written a letter to Sen. Russ Feingold.
“[E]xceptions under the GLBA permit financial institutions to disclose nonpublic personal information about their customers in accordance with the Wisconsin elder abuse reporting statute,” according to a letter signed by officials at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Reserve System, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration.
Enclosed with the letter is a “Memorandum of Understanding for Reporting Instances of Material Abuse to the County Lead Elder Abuse Agency.” For a copy of the letter, contact WBA’s Rose Oswald Poels at 608/441-1205. [top]