When it comes to elder abuse being reported in Maine, about 30% is financial exploitation.
A new program in Maine is training financial institutions to be on the front line for fraud abuse.
Joy Hollowell tells us about Senior Safe.
“Our seniors are becoming more and more dependent on the people they see everyday,” says Judy Shaw, Securities Administrator for the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
That includes the teller at their local financial institution. So when something doesn’t add up, it’s banks and credit unions that can be among the first to see the red flags.
“They’re recognizing John Doe or Jane Doe coming in and John always looks so clean-shaven and put together and is very chatty with the teller staff,” says Vanessa Madore, Assistant Vice-President of Risk Management, Maine Savings Federal Credit Union. “And one day he comes in and he looks disheveled. He’s forgotten what he came in for, he’s coming in two to three times in a day. Someone that’s calling in on the 1st and 3rd of the month, after their social security deposit has been made – did it come in, what are these withdrawals on my account, I’m not recognizing these. And then if we have someone else getting on the phone, trying to assist them with that conversation.”
“More often than not, it’s either family members or care takers that are victimizing them,” adds Shaw. “So they may be afraid.”
Helping these seniors is the goal of a new program, appropriately called Senior$afe. It’s a collaboration among state agencies, banks and credit unions. To date, more than 200 workers in financial institutes have learned how to better recognize the warning signs of fraud.
Just last week, 10 employees from Maine Savings Federal Credit Union went through the Senior$afe training.
“Right now, we take in about two to five calls a week. I get the phone calls myself and I report them out,” explains Madore. “And with this information, our calls have actually increased because our staff have knowledge of what is a true red flag.”
In addition, the Maine Office of Securities is now an intake agency for suspected fraud, giving financial institutes another avenue besides Adult Protective Services to voice their concerns.
“The heart of credit unions is the community,” says Madore. “And so a community problem requires a community solution and we’d like to be a part of that.”
Office of Aging and Disability Services- Adult Protective Services
Legal Services for the Elderly
Eastern Area Agency on Aging