Survey: Banks Ramp Up Efforts to Protect Older Americans from Financial Abuse

As the population of older Americans continues to grow—and with seniors increasingly the targets of scams—a majority of banks are responding by offering training for frontline staff on how to prevent elder financial exploitation, according to the American Bankers Association Foundation’s second Older Americans Benchmarking Report released today. The survey found that 9 in 10 banks of all sizes offer this training, up from 7 in 10 banks in the 2017 survey.

To help prevent elder fraud, an overwhelming majority of banks—80%—said they place holds on suspicious transactions, while 46% said they use automated tools to monitor older adult accounts and 38% said they assign bank staff to monitor accounts on a regular basis. When elder fraud is suspected, banks most commonly respond by flagging the account for further monitoring (82%), reporting the incident to adult protective services (81%) and closing existing accounts and opening new ones for the customer (68%).

In addition to frontline training, about half of banks said they have procedures in place to offer account-holders the opportunity to consent to have their account information disclosed to a designated a financial caregiver. Nearly two-thirds—62%—said they have designated staff for elder fraud prevention within the bank, and 56% said they host community outreach and education events for older customers, up from 47% in 2017.

To help bankers in their efforts to protect older Americans, the ABA Foundation in 2015 launched Safe Banking for Seniors, which provides resources to help engage and educate older customers and their financial caregivers. The ABA Foundation will also host a free webinar today at 12 p.m. EST to review the report and its findings.