Protecting Our Seniors

Published on May 29th, 2019

Recently, I discussed a few steps that you could take to protect your children from Identity Theft.  Now, I’m headed to the other side of the age spectrum and want to discuss protecting our seniors.  All the employees at our credit union Franklin Park just went through mandatory training on Financial Exploitation of the Elderly.  We’re aware of what to look for to indicate that our Senior Members are being abused.  I think it’s good information for anyone to have that has a family member, friend, or neighbor that is susceptible to this type of abuse.

While the focus of our training was on the financial aspect of Elderly Abuse, we also touched on other forms of abuse such as:  physical, emotional, neglect, and verbal.  A few of the sad statistics that we learned is that 1 in 10 Americans age 60 plus have experienced some form of elder abuse and only 10% of that abuse is being reported to authorities.  Over a third of the perpetrators of the abuse are family, friends, or neighbors of the elderly victim.  Nearly half of the abusers are the victim’s primary caregiver.

There are certain indications that we in the financial industry are cued in to looking for that could indicate that financial abuse is happening.  When an elderly member is always accompanied by a “helper” who is always trying to control the transaction, they will do all the talking and not let the elderly person be involved in the conversation.  If the elderly individual seems intimidated by their helper, that’s an indication that something is wrong.  If the elderly individual is performing transactions that are out of character for how they normally transact their business, that’s also an indication that something could be wrong.  Examples of this could be opening up new credit cards or buying a new car when they don’t drive or drive much and let their “helper” have access to the credit cards or vehicle. 

While we at the credit union in Franklin Park have some advantages of being able to see some transactions personally, we only see what the individuals do in person at our institution.  Many times it’s you, the reader, that may have a friend, a family member, a neighbor that is getting taken advantage of or being abused.  Talk to the individuals that you suspect may be in trouble.  If they have a caregiver that completely dominates the relationship and tries to keep you from talking to them,  that could be a sign that something is wrong.  If you have a family member that has taken over the finances for an elderly parent/grandparent and doesn’t want you looking into their finances, that could be an indication that something unsavory is happening. 

If you suspect abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of an older person, you can call the Adult Protective Service Hotline at 1-866-800-1409. 

I hope you find this information useful.  I always love getting feedback.  If you have any questions or comments or topics that you would like me to write about, please write me at


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