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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day a reminder to stay vigilant to warning signs of financial abuse   

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day a reminder to stay vigilant to warning signs of financial abuse   

15 June 2023

With one in six older Australians experiencing some form of abuse [1], today’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an important reminder to look out for the warning signs, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) says. 

Common warning signs of financial abuse can include:    

  • unusual transactions after giving someone authority to access your account 
  • missing or confusing bank statements 
  • withdrawals from your account that don’t make sense 
  • feeling pressured to give someone access to your account or pin number  
  • feeling pressured to make changes to a will, power of attorney or legal document  
  • feeling intimidated or controlled by another person.  

ABA CEO Anna Bligh said Australian banks see firsthand the impacts of elder abuse and have put in place key initiatives to assist with its prevention. 

“The banking sector is training staff and using software to recognise warning signs of elder abuse such as red flags on transactions,” Ms Bligh said. “Banks are also providing tools to help customers manage accounts, such as pre-set digital banking, transaction limits and notifications and two to sign arrangements. 

“In line with our best practice guideline on preventing and responding to financial abuse (including elder financial abuse), banks are also referring customers for internal and external support such as specialised customer assistance and financial counselling.” 

Ms Bligh said important safeguards can help prevent incidents of financial abuse, including immediately informing your bank of any concerns you have regarding people’s access to your account. 

Planning ahead is also important: “Think about who you would trust to help manage your financial affairs and share your wishes and preferences with people you trust while you are healthy and not under pressure. You may also wish to consider a written family agreement or an enduring power of attorney.” 

Resources include the newly updated ‘Safe and Savvy: A guide to help people avoid scams, fraud and elder financial abuse’ handbook which has been released by CommBank today. 

Ms Bligh said World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is also a timely reminder for our Federal and State Attorneys-General to commit to a timeline to deliver reforms that will help protect older Australians from financial abuse, such as implementing nationally consistent laws governing enduring powers of attorney (EPOA) and the introduction of a national register for power of attorney documents.  

“The implementation of such laws would offer older Australians much-needed additional protection against financial abuse, ensuring their rights and assets are safeguarded,” Ms Bligh said. “These reforms were recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2017. It is shameful that successive State and Federal Governments have failed to put these protections in place.”  

[1] Australian Institute of Family Studies  

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