For immediate release
Toronto, ON, June 11, 2015 – Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of reported elder abuse. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is marking the day by providing information for seniors and their families about recognizing and preventing elder financial abuse.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse occurs when an abuser takes control of what belongs to a senior for the abuser’s own benefit. Although financial abuse can happen to anyone, abusers often target seniors and take advantage of their vulnerability.
Unfortunately, financial abuse is frequently committed by a trusted person, such as a family member or caregiver, who takes advantage of their relationship with a senior by exploiting his or her funds.
Warning Signs and Prevention Tips
It is important that seniors recognize the warning signs of financial abuse:
- A trusted person takes an unwarranted curiosity or involvement in your financial matters.
- Your bank statements show account withdrawals or transfers you did not do.
- A trusted person suggests that you have your bank statements sent to them.
- A trusted person suggests that you make changes to important contracts – your will, power of attorney (POA), trusts, property titles, deeds or mortgages - that you do not want to make or that are not in your best interest.
- You feel afraid of, or pressured by, a trusted person.
Seniors can protect themselves from becoming a victim of financial abuse by following these tips:
- Conducting your own financial transactions and estate matters yourself whenever possible.
- Saying “no” when someone pressures you for money.
- Making sure you understand every document you sign.
- Having pension cheques directly deposited into your bank account and bills directly debited out of your account.
The CBA provides more information on how to avoid financial abuse and how to get help, as well as a downloadable PDF on avoiding financial abuse on its website at www.cba.ca/seniors-fraud.
Smart Use of Powers of Attorney and Joint Accounts
Banks are very aware of the issue of financial abuse targeting seniors and understand that they have an important role to play, along with others that deal with seniors, in helping their clients to avoid abuse. Many Canadians, especially seniors, give others the authority to manage their financial affairs and do their banking for them. Setting up POAs and joint deposit accounts are a good way to do this, but care should be taken when entering into these arrangements. The CBA has tips and information for individuals setting up POAs and joint deposit accounts on its website.
In 2014, banks implemented a Commitment on Powers of Attorney and Joint Deposit Accounts that sets out the information that banks will make available to clients.
“It is important that Canadians know how to spot financial abuse, especially when it’s directed towards seniors,” says Terry Campbell, president, CBA. “Our financial literacy program, Your Money Seniors, provides important information and warning signs on the issue to help prevent the financial mistreatment of seniors.”
Your Money Seniors is a financial literacy program offered free of charge, in English and French, to seniors’ groups across Canada. It is presented by bankers who volunteer their time and financial expertise. Your Money Seniors seminars cover three important topics: financial abuse; financial fraud; and cash management. More details on the informative program can be found in this video.
About the Canadian Bankers Association
The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 60 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness. www.cba.ca.