How older people can protect their financesPosted to Financial Capability on 15-06-2016
It’s elder abuse week and people are being encouraged to think ahead to protect their finances in their old age.
Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden has highlighted the case of a son who left his dad in the lurch, which almost led to him losing his house.
She said: “Financial abuse of the elderly is a serious problem for an ageing population. Planning for old age should include ensuring your financial interests are protected when you might not be so capable.
“In a recent case, a retired man helped his son by becoming co-borrower on a loan. The father allowed his house to be used as security. The son then did a bunk leaving his father to make repayments or lose his house. The father wasn’t well-off and appeared vulnerable.
“He could have ended up homeless and in debt, was it not for a concerned friend who complained firstly to the bank, and then to us when the bank’s offer of redress didn’t go far enough.”
Older people can be more vulnerable to financial abuse, including scams, particularly if they have disposable income, are isolated or physically or mentally disabled.
Tips for older people to protect their money:
- keep debit and credit cards safe
- don’t give PINs to anybody - banks won’t ask customers to disclose them
- keep your bank PINs unique – don’t use the same PIN for anything else
- keep a limited amount of money in current accounts
- ensure larger accounts aren’t accessible via an EFTPOS / ATM card
- don’t open emails from strangers, or forward money to people you don’t know
- never allow yourself to be pressured into a financial decision
- monitor your accounts regularly
- report any concerns to your bank.
If you are assisting an older person, look out for:
- unusual changes in bank account balances (such as unexplained large sum withdrawals)
- the inclusion of new names on bank accounts
- account changes made in the absence of the elderly person
- suspicious signatures
- customers appearing forgetful.
The Banking Ombudsman’s website has quick guides on financial abuse of the elderly, common scams targeting bank customers and looking after your credit and debit cards and PINs.
Next: A train ride conversation about wills