IT'S a unfortunate fact that as more older people embrace technology they increasing become the favoured targets of the scammer.
More than three quarters of scam activity affects people over the age of 50. In the 2014-15 financial year the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 1.6 million Australians were affected by personal fraud with a total loss of three billion
To help elderly and vulnerable customers protect their money online Bankwest has released a self-help video as part of its drive to counter financial elder abuse.
The short film is a video representation of Bankwest's Safe and Savvy booklet, published last year.
Bankwest General Manager Personal and Business Banking Donna Dalby said more and more elderly people were being caught by scammers and fraudsters.
"In today's increasingly digital world much of our shopping and banking is being done online.
"While new technology brings greater convenience, sadly it opens up the possibility of less technologically savvy people - such as some elderly customers - being caught out by frauds and scams.
"We're trying to educate our older customers on the risks and provide them with steps they can take to protect their financial wellbeing. That's why we've produced this Safe and Savvy guide - as a booklet and now as a video - to get the information out to as many customers as possible."
Donna said that the video's production was prompted by the over-whelming popularity of the booklet.
"We've handed out hundreds of our Safe and Savvy booklets at our branches and at various information sessions we hold in the community. By putting this new video on our website, we hope the information and advice will get out to even more people," she said.
The video is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by Bankwest on the issue of financial elder abuse.
The video features four real-life cases of attempted financial abuse.
Brian*, a 65-year-old widower, contacted the bank to arranged to transfer $400,000 (half of his life savings) to a overseas woman he had met online and considered himself engaged to, although they had never met, so she could buy a house for them. The bank spoke to Brian about online scams and he decided against transferring the money.
Bob*, aged 72 who has Parkinson's, went into a Bankwest branch wanting to transfer money into a new young friend's account saying he was helping him with his move to the UK, a story which concerned the bank teller. The bank manager gave Bob a call and Bob confided the new friend had been asking for money.
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Sue*, another Bankwest customer, called and asked to speak to her local branch. She said she'd be coming in with her son and needed Bankwest to tell her - in front of him - there was no money in her account. This concerned the phone operator who spoke to the customer care team. They called Sue back and the concerns were proven right.
Sue was given some practical advice on how to keep her money safe, including reducing account limits, placing savings into different linked accounts, disabling internet banking and placing notes on her account.
Stella*, who'd recently been diagnosed with early on-set dementia, put in place a joint Power of Attorney with her two sons to protect herself in the event that she became incapable of making decisions about her money. Following that, Stella's daughter visited Bankwest, worried one of her brothers was taking advantage.
Stella's accounts were reviewed and it was confirmed to Stella's husband that one of her sons wasn't acting in her best interests.
As a result, controls and limits were added to the terms of the Power of Attorney to better protect Stella's finances.
An abuse of a power of attorney is one of the most common forms of financial abuse, usually perpetrated by close family.
"At Bankwest we have an important role to play in identifying and supporting customers who we believe could be victims of financial elder abuse," said Donna."As well as educating our customers we also train our colleagues to identify warning signs by asking clear, factual and non-threatening questions and escalating cases involving susceptible customers to our Customer Care and Fraud Teams."
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
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