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CUNA Experts Share Tips to Fight Senior Financial Abuse
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 6:35 AM

Financial literacy is a primary part of credit unions’ mission, and credit unions are in a unique position when it comes to protecting members and their families from elder financial abuse. At the Credit Union National Association’s Regulatory Compliance School last week, compliance staff from around the country compared notes on how to spot elder financial abuse.

Compliance officers recommended credit union staff stay alert to changes in elderly members’ behavior, including: someone accompanying the member and speaking on their behalf; the member appears fearful, nervous of reluctant to make eye contact; or the member appears confused about what is happening.

Suspicious changes in financial transactions can include:

  • Large or frequent cash withdrawals from ATMs;
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents;
  • Execution of new power of attorney or adding new signatories or beneficiaries;
  • Sudden increase in debt, including large unusual credit card charges, second mortgages;
  • Closing certificates of deposit regardless of penalties;
  • Transfers to accounts accessible by others; and
  • Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”

Credit unions should provide members with information whenever appropriate, and members should be warned not to give out account numbers or PINs to anyone over the phone, never pay a fee to collect alleged “winnings,” and to say, “Let me check with my credit union,” before giving any money or information away.

While the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act has a number of privacy requirements, disclosure of certain information is permitted to local, state, and federal authorities. The National Credit Union Administration released guidance on reporting financial abuse in 2013.

CUNA and the state leagues are active participants in combating elder financial abuse. CUNA voiced its support for Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) bill, the Senior$safe Act of 2015 (S. 2216) last month. The bill would protect good-faith reporters of suspected financial elder abuse.

For a deeper look into elder financial abuse from a compliance perspective, as well as other items from CUNA’s Regulatory Compliance School, see CUNA’s CompBlog.