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Banking industry calls for awareness of elder financial abuse

15 June 2021

The Australian Banking Association is calling on the support of every Australian to help stamp out elder abuse across the country, as they acknowledge the importance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Banks see too many heartbreaking stories of older, vulnerable Australians who have been financially exploited by family members or close friends.

Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association, said elder financial abuse is a community problem which will likely increase with an ageing population, so we all must be alert 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,” Ms Bligh said.

“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 really 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.”

“If you’re concerned you are being coerced or taken advantage of financially, I encourage you to contact your bank.”

ABA CEO Anna 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.

“If you’re concerned you are being coerced or taken advantage of financially, I encourage you to contact your bank.”

Banks have introduced a range of policies and procedures to help put a stop to elder financial abuse. These include:

  • Specialised training for staff to help them recognise warning signs and support customers
  • Helping customers manage their own finances, for example, co-signatory accounts, pre-set transactions limits, transaction notifications, blocks on overseas transactions. ​
  • Referring customers for internal and external support e.g. specialised customer assistance team in the bank, financial counselling, seniors’ rights and similar organisations.
  • Using software and other means to identify suspicious transactions
  • Reporting suspected abuse to relevant authorities.

If a customer is concerned they are being financial abused, they should contact their bank directly.


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