Elder abuse may be physical, social, psychological, sexual or financial and can include mistreatment and neglect. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs without people realising yet it can have profound impacts on the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people. It’s an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.
We know that people over the age of 50 are at risk of financial abuse, scams and fraud. This is often called elder financial abuse. Even though it’s hard to discuss, the more we understand what elder financial abuse is, the more we can identify it, talk about it, and take action to prevent it from happening.
To help raise awareness of the issue of financial elder abuse and provide practical support for vulnerable customers and their loved ones we have launched the Safe and Savvy program and guide.
The program introduces the concept of elder financial abuse, why it matters and how to recognise the types and signs of elder abuse. For example, did you know that while elder financial abuse can take many forms, there are four common features of all types of financial abuse?
- Financial abuse exploits a power imbalance: Often elder financial abuse involves someone misusing their power over the victim, such as exploiting poor health, lack of mobility, withholding information, or even physical intimidation.
- Financial abuse is an abuse of trust: Often elder financial abuse occurs where there is an expectation of trust either through a pre-existing relationship (such as a family), or where someone tries to create a relationship that appears genuine but is really for self-interest.
- Financial abuse is often not technically illegal: Often elder financial abuse involves someone unethically exploiting power of attorney or other legal mechanisms that give them control over an older person’s assets.
- Financial abuse often causes psychological, not physical harm: Often elder financial abuse doesn’t involve obvious physical threats or violence (although it sometimes does), but inflicts profound emotional harm and psychological distress on the victim.
Safe and Savvy, developed by our Customer Advocate team, is now available on our website and will be in our branches from July. So our frontline teams can better support our customers, training will be rolled out across our network. We will be getting out into the community across the next year to raise awareness of the issue, and provide practical tips and support for customers and their families, to help address elder financial abuse.
For practical tips on safeguarding yourself or loved ones from elder financial abuse or for more information on recognising the types and signs of elder abuse please download the Safe and Savvy guide on www.commbank.com.au/safeandsavvy