Credit unions in Maine and across the country must take serious steps to protect older members from financial abuse. Older Americans are being victimized daily and often by individuals they know.
Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) examined the issue and released a report analyzing data and trends. The report’s key findings outline the need for strong intervention and reporting among financial institutions.
CFPB Report Key Findings:
- Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017.
- Financial institutions reported a total of $1.7 billion in suspicious activities in 2017, including actual losses and attempts to steal older adults’ funds.
- When a filer lost money, the average loss per filer was $16,700.
- One-third of the individuals who lost money were ages 80 and older.
- Losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect.
What Credit Unions Can Do to Protect Older Members
To combat elder financial abuse and help credit union frontline staff better detect exploitation, AARP created a free online program called BankSafe for financial institutions. The program was designed to empower staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to take action and stop the mistreatment of older members.
Taking this valuable training is easy and fun! At only 60 minutes in length, the interactive program can be completed in one sitting or at an employee’s pace. The educational modules include games, videos, real-life scenarios, and state resources.
Once a credit union has completed its training, it can apply to have AARP verify that at least 80 perfect of frontline staff successfully passed the BankSafe course. Once that happens, a qualifying credit union can apply to receive a seal from AARP, good for one year, recognizing the credit union’s commitment to protecting its older members. Credit union supervisors and compliance officers also can benefit from this unique learning experience.
“Protecting our most vulnerable members from elder financial abuse is a responsibility Maine’s credit unions take seriously,” said Cheryl Lancaster, Executive Vice President of Member Services at the Maine Credit Union League. “The national statistics are frightening and given that our state is the oldest in the nation, we must remain vigilant. BankSafe can provide every credit union valuable training and is a great complement to the important work credit unions are already doing because of their Senior$afe training. I hope our network takes advantage of all of these resources.”
For a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the BankSafe program, visit AARP’s website. You also can contact Jake Holmes, Financial Literacy Outreach Coordinator at the Maine Credit Union League, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.