Banks and other financial institutions are an important line of defense against scammers seeking to defraud the elderly, but too often tellers and branch managers are not trained to recognize the warning signs, says a Government Accountability Office report issued Thursday.
The study, which looked at programs aimed at fighting fraud that targets the elderly in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, said that out of misguided concern they might breach federal privacy laws, banks and other financial institutions are sometimes reluctant to share information with agencies that work to protect older people from financial crimes.
“Banks are well-positioned to recognize, report, and provide evidence supporting investigations,” said Kay E. Brown, director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security at the GAO. “However, many social-services and law enforcement officials we spoke with indicated banks do not always recognize and report exploitation or provide evidence needed to investigate it.”
The report was released at the outset of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington on efforts nationally to combat elder financial abuse.
It comes one year after the indictment of Philadelphia lawyer Michael Kwasnik by a New Jersey state grand jury on charges of stealing $1.1 million from a Cherry Hill widow who had hired him for estate planning and to manage her money.
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Banks Can Help Defend Elderly Against Scams