Safeguarding Financial Identity for Senior Citizens
By Bill Mills CEO, North America
August 22, 2014 08:39 AM
Today is National Senior Citizens Day - a day for all of us to celebrate, appreciate and give back to the elders in our communities. It's also a time to reflect on the responsibilities we have as individuals, families and institutions to support and protect older adults, a rapidly-growing segment of the U.S. population.
One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial exploitation
, which until recently, was also one of the least understood. According to a study
in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, nearly one in twenty older adults reported being the victim of a financial scam or theft. The incidents comprise a broad range of crimes - from the theft of cash or possessions, to the transfer of property or homeownership rights, to identity theft and investment fraud. These crimes can be perpetrated by strangers, or even at the hands of trusted caretakers, friends, business associates and family members.
The losses from this kind of abuse are often devastating. Elderly victims are left with damaged credit scores and empty bank accounts. They may lose the ability to live on their own, and the abuses often go unreported and unprosecuted because of the complex and emotionally painful nature of these crimes.
At Citi, we are dedicated to protecting our customers' assets and safeguarding their financial identity, and have internal controls that specifically look for patterns of account activity, such as suspicious withdrawals, that might indicate that one of our elder customers may be the target of an attempted fraud.
Education and awareness are also critical factors in preventing elder financial abuse. For instance, the Little Tokyo Service Center
(LTSC) - an organization which provides important social and community services to Asian and Pacific Islanders throughout Los Angeles County - has seen this problem hit its elder population especially hard because of language and cultural barriers.
In response, LTSC joined with Citi Community Development to launch a series of workshops
designed to enable Asian and Pacific Islander seniors and their caretakers to learn about and protect themselves from financial scams and abuse. I had the privilege of attending the launch of the program
- where close to 300 people received training in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese and English - and it's an example of how we are working to raise awareness to help elders protect themselves from becoming victims of financial exploitation.
More than 40 million Americans are aged 65 and older - a number which the U.S. Census Bureau projects
will grow to 88.5 million by 2025 - and it is our responsibility to enable a safe, inclusive economy for those who came before us.
*Tagged as: citi community development, financial identity, los angeles, senior citizens day, social and community service