Australian banks have moved to help put a stop to elder financial abuse - a problem that is expected to worsen as the population ages.
The banking lobby group said it was hearing too many "heart-breaking" stories of older, vulnerable Australians who had been financially exploited by family members or close friends.
Consequently, the banks have introduced a slew of procedures aimed at mitigating the problem. These measures include training staff to spot warning signs and helping customers manage their finances by introducing pre-set transaction limits, transaction notifications, and blocking overseas transactions.
The Australian Banking Association also said banks will refer vulnerable customers for financial counselling, will use software to flag suspicious transactions, and report suspected abuse to the police.
ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said elder financial abuse is a community problem that will likely increase with an aging population and urged all Australians to help bring it under control.
“By 2055, we expect one in four Australian’s to be over 65, so elder financial abuse continues to be a growing problem,” said Bligh.
“Through improvements to training and processes, banks are playing their part, however, the more people are aware of it, the more chance Australians can help reduce the problem.
“Elder financial abuse can be hard to detect, so we need Australians to be aware of how people might be taking advantage of their parents, loved ones, or friends, so we can all help to stamp this out.”
According to Bligh, financial abuse can take many forms, including spending money without permission, forging signatures, coercing someone to sign something, pension-skimming, using a person’s bank card without permission as well as denying them access to their own money or bank statements.