Look out for financial elder abuse

The New Zealand Bankers’ Association is encouraging people to look for the signs of financial elder abuse as part of Elder Abuse Awareness Week.

“Financial elder abuse is the illegal or improper use of older people’s money, property and other assets. This kind of abuse is a very real risk for older New Zealanders. It’s particularly nasty because it involves people, often loved ones, taking advantage of people’s trust and vulnerability,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman.

Around half of reported elder abuse cases involve financial abuse.

“It’s important for all of us to be aware of the risks to older people, to know what to look for, and where to get help. Often older people are exploited by family and others they have close relationships with. They may also fall victim to scams by con artists.”

Common examples of financial elder abuse include:

  • Unauthorised taking of money or possessions
  • Misuse of powers of attorney
  • Failure to repay loans
  • Use of home and assets without permission or contributing to costs
  • Scams that rely on establishing a relationship with an older person with the intention of exploiting their savings, assets or personal information.

The Bankers’ Association has published guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers. They include encouraging banks to provide training to staff on how to recognise signs of potential financial abuse while being sensitive to customers’ situations and wishes. Banks must strike a balance between being vigilant and following instructions from customers about what they want to do with their money.

Age Concern’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Service can provide assistance and advice in cases of elder abuse. Contact details are available at: https://www.ageconcern.org.nz/Public/Info/Services/Elder_abuse_and_neglet/Where_to_get_help.aspx

World Elder Abuse Awareness Week runs from 15 to 22 June. “Elder abuse hits close to home” is the theme for this year.

More information about Elder Abuse Awareness Week is available at: