Begun in 2019, a program meant to protect the elderly population, which is susceptible to fraud, has shown some significant results. Called BankSafe, the program has already caught major instances of possible danger and saved many elders from having their savings stolen. In fact, the bank officials who received this training caught 16 times more instances of fraud than those who did not undergo the training. We’ll break down what BankSafe is, and some possible points to take away from the experiment, below.

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More About BankSafe

So what is the BankSafe program anyway, and how does it prevent fraud? Essentially, it was a six-month pilot program designed by the AARP to train bank officials in spotting and reporting red flags. The intensive training includes education measures, interactive videos, and even “games” that tested the skills of the participants. This reportedly gave the bank officials the tools necessary to become confident in their assessment of whether or not a transaction was likely to be a scam.

The results are staggering:

  • almost $1 million USD in thwarted cons
  • one customer avoided losing $500,000

This is a 16x increase in the amount of money saved by officials who did not receive the training, and it indicates that the principles used in the program might prove to be the way forward in loss prevention for older adults.

Exploring the Elder Exploitation Phenomenon

Thwarting the financial exploitation of the older generations has taken on crucial importance in recent years. In fact, the Center for Financial Services Innovation claims that as much as one in every five elders have been the victim of such activity in the past. This is for several reasons, including:

  • the propensity of older adults to make over-the-phone transactions
  • difficulty among older generations with the use of technology such as online banking
  • social isolation among the elderly, making them less protected from exploitation
  • in a small percentage, degenerative conditions like dementia

In the study that followed bank officials who had been trained under BankSafe guidelines, there was some interesting data. The average target of a scam was a woman in her seventies. Additionally, she held, on average, less than $20,000 in assets. It seems that perpetrators of these crimes often go after the elderly even when they are not in control of great wealth. Finally, another important point is that the vast majority of these scams seem to come from inside the family circle. 70% of cases, in fact, involved an exploiter who was a close family member of the intended victim.

While it may seem shocking that family members would do something like this, it is often down to the knowledge that they have of the target’s financial situation. They may know account numbers and passwords. Additionally, the average target held assets in several different accounts at several different institutions. Thus, fraudsters may see an opportunity to avoid detection by spreading their schemes across multiple fronts.

Future Expansion

Currently, the AARP plans to expand its BankSafe program into financial institutions across the United States (and perhaps even spread it throughout the globe). The goal is to educate senior citizens, bank staffers, and close family members about the risks and warning signs of this type of exploitative behavior in the hopes that this will cut back on its prevalence.

Risk reduction and wealth management is what financial professionals like Stratford Management do for a living. With our help, you can have an extra set of eyes on potential threats to your investments, allowing you to expand your profile, minimize risk through diversification, and secure a prosperous future. For more information, contact our Tokyo, Japan office today.

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