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Today, June 15, Is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Friday, June 15, 2018 6:50 AM

It's the annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today. How will your credit union acknowledge and honor your important elder members? And how will your train your staff to identify the markers of exploitation, if they exist?

Credit unions can play a critical role in helping to reduce elder financial abuse and exploitation. Frontline staff members, especially, are the first defense in identifying suspicious activity. This is vital because every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23 cases go unreported.

If credit union personnel are trained to identify EFAE, they can then report suspected cases to appropriate authorities, as required by statute, with a greater degree of confidence. Red flags regarding abuse may include unusual, suspicious, or stepped-up activity by the accountholder on their own or in conjunction with another person who could be coercing the accountholder to make transactions they would not normally make, such as:

  • Transactions made outside the credit union, such as numerous ATM transactions that the accountholder would normally come inside the bank to make. This includes transactions made at unusual hours (for instance, late at night), in contrast to their normal banking hours.
  • Unusual or accelerated debit card activity, out of the norm for the accountholder.
  • Closing CDs without regard to penalties.
  • Frequent or large wires, which might start off small but grow in amounts over time as the scammer or abuser gains confidence.
  • Online banking such as new online accounts with accelerated activity.
  • Lines of credit with accelerated activity or in which the credit is always maxed out.
  • Home equity line of credit with previous little activity but which is now always maxed out.
  • New loan applications for purchases that might be unusual for certain elders.
  • Stepped-up NSF activity.
  • Numerous checks written when the account has usually only a few checks written, or many out-of-sequence check numbers.
  • Unusual changes in account beneficiaries.
  • New or unusual types of transactions via powers of attorneys.
  • Change of address for monthly statements but not a change of home address.
  • Change in marital status by widows/widowers, in combination with other red flags.
  • Unusual or suspicious ACH transactions.
  • New co-signer on the account, in conjunction with other red flags.
  • Banking by mobile phone, in conjunction with other red flags.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

For more information on how you can make your staff more aware, please contact Paula Upchurch at