How you can help prevent financial elder abuse

If you see, or are aware of, any signs of financial elder abuse then it’s important you call for help.

That is the key message from the New Zealand Bankers’ Association as Elder Abuse Awareness Week is launched today.

“Financial elder abuse can include everything from illegal or wrongful use of older people’s money, their property and other assets. It’s particularly hurtful because it often involves people close to them taking advantage of their trust and vulnerability,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association deputy chief executive Antony Buick-Constable.

“With our ageing population it’s critical for all of us to be aware of the risks to older people, to know what to look for, and where to get help. Sadly, older people are exploited by family or others they have close relationships with, or now more frequently fall victim to scams by criminals.”

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 Elder Abuse Response Service helpline will connect you to providers in your area. Call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK).

Financial elder abuse is a key focus of this year’s Elder Abuse Awareness Week, which runs from 15 to 22 June.

The Bankers’ Association has guidelines in place 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.