In recognition of Family Caregivers Month, the ABA Foundation released its inaugural Older Americans Benchmarking Report, an unprecedented survey detailing how banks across the country are working with seniors and their financial caregivers to address the growing threat of elder financial fraud.
To produce the report, the ABA Foundation surveyed 103 banks of all sizes with assets ranging from less than $500 million to more than $10 billion – a sampling intended to provide a cross section of the industry. The survey is the most comprehensive industry assessment of seniors and banking to date.
According to the report, Americans age 50 or older account for 70 percent of all bank deposit balances today, even though they only represent one-third of the population. Their savings, coupled with potentially declining faculties related to aging, make them prime targets for exploitation. According to the CFPB, one in five seniors report that they have been victims of some form of financial fraud. To combat this, banks are adopting a range of creative approaches to protect their customers, while working to establish key partnerships with financial caregivers who often hold responsibility for a seniors’ financial decisions.
“Preventing and stopping this wave of crime against the elderly takes a full community effort with family, caregivers, law enforcement, protective services and banks working together,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “This first-of-its-kind survey highlights banks’ growing commitment to combatting elder financial exploitation.”
The report reveals some of the significant steps banks are taking to protect their older customers including:
- Seventy-one percent of all respondent banks require additional, specialized training for frontline staff to help spot elder financial abuse. Older customers are far more likely to visit a branch regularly than to use online banking, making it critical that frontline staff know to look out for behavioral changes and other red flags associated with financial fraud.
- About two-thirds of larger banks (64 percent) are using automated tools to better monitor account activity for older customers, the survey found. These automated tools are a supplement to the standard suspicious activity monitoring banks do for all accounts.
- When elder financial abuse is suspected, most respondent banks personally engage a trusted financial caregiver. In fact, 77 percent of surveyed banks call to notify the financial caregiver, while 55 percent schedule an in-person meeting.
- Nearly half of the banks surveyed (47 percent) host community outreach and education events for older customers. With these bank-hosted seminars and training events, senior customers learn how to identify and avoid scams, protect their assets from fraud and identity theft, and select a trusted financial caregiver.
The ABA Foundation, with the support of 44 State Bank Associations, launched Safe Banking for Seniors in 2015, which provides resources to help banks host community outreach events and educate their senior customers about how to protect their finances. To learn more about the program and find a participating bank, visit aba.com/Seniors.
“We hope this unprecedented survey will help bankers, policymakers and other interested groups better understand how best to protect older customers,” Carlisle said. “The information we have collected will help us build on our success and tackle the difficult issues that remain for banks trying to serve this important yet vulnerable segment of the population.”