WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- OP ED BY SANDI RICHARDSON, Risk Management Operations Manager, Piedmont Advantage Credit Union
I am fortunate that I work for an employer that encourages its employees with a voice to use it. I am in Risk Management with Piedmont Advantage Credit Union (PACU) and thought it would be helpful to share some information on the trending increase in elder financial exploitation. In PACU's North Carolina service areas, 40 percent of our fraud cases in the last 30 days involved financial exploitation of individuals 65 years-old and older.
I have worked in the financial industry in risk management for many years and this percentage is unusually high with expectations of continued increase. Based on what I am hearing among my colleagues at other financial institutions, PACU is not alone in seeing this trend. As the economy weakens, our elders tend to be easier targets of financial exploitation with their secure source of income through Social Security, investments or retirement plans; and with the pandemic, fraudsters have increasingly preyed on the elderly, who may be lonely and socially isolated.
The official definition of Elder Financial Exploitation is "fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized or improper act or process of an individual that uses the resources of an older person for personal benefit, profit or gain." It's also actions that result in depriving an older person of rightful access to, or use of benefits, resources, belongings or assets. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Solicitations to donate money for nonexistent charities, especially in the wake of a natural disaster.
- Claims that relatives are in the hospital and need money wired to them.
- Email-messages that appear to come from legitimate sources and ask for verification about personal information, including financial information.
- Notifications of winning a sweepstakes or lottery and that a deposit is needed to access winnings.
PACU and other financial institutions work diligently to prevent and combat fraudulent and criminal activity conducted through financial accounts. I urge individuals who suspect loved ones are being financially exploited to encourage them to contact their financial institution to report the potentially fraudulent activity as soon as possible and ask for assistance. Financial institutions do their best to investigate the activity, help their members or customers mitigate any impact of financial exploitation and assist with measures to help prevent future exploitation from occurring. Of course, if criminal activity is suspected, contact the local police department to report it.
The more we raise awareness that elder financial exploitation is on rise during these unprecedented times, the more we all can help to keep a watchful eye out on our older family members, friends and neighbors. They watched out for us during our formative years, protecting us from bullies and bad social influences. It's time we do the same for them.
SOURCE Piedmont Advantage Credit Union