According to AARP, one in five older Americans is the victim of financial exploitation each year, resulting in losses of $3 billion annually. Older members of the population are targeted due to their $18 trillion in assets and the likelihood that they suffer from problems with memory and judgment, making them more vulnerable.
In 2018, the president signed the Senior Safe Act to help combat elder financial abuse. The law allows financial institutions a "safe harbor" to report suspected fraud without the fear of being sued, as long as they have trained their employees in how to detect suspicious activity.
Banks are often the first to recognize fraud or financial exploitation. An unexplained withdrawal, wire transfer, transfer to a new account, or check issued to a new recipient can all be telltale signs of fraud. While banks use automatic tools and software to flag transactions, only 38 percent of baby boomers bank online. So, a teller's personal relationship with a client can be the first line of defense against exploitation.
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