Armed with helpful facts and ice cream floats, Citizens Bank & Trust visited senior centers across the area to talk about elder abuse.
Citizens Bank & Trust Marketing Officer Kasey Culbert said the bank wanted to educate local seniors on financial abuse in observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), which is Saturday, June 15.
Culbert and employees from the bank gave presentations at senior centers located in the bank’s markets on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 11-12, including Albertville, Arab, Guntersville, New Hope, Rogersville and Elkmont.
“We continue to see our senior community targeted by financial scams, some of which can be very convincing,” Citizens Bank & Trust President/CEO Charlie Williams said. “As a bank committed to the communities we serve, we want to help educate the public on things to look for and be aware regarding financial elder abuse, and this is one way we can do just that.”
The presentations focused on how seniors and caretakers can protect themselves from financial exploitation and what to watch out for.
“Alabama ranks 23rd nationally in both total population and age 60-plus population,” Culbert said. “In recent years, elder financial exploitation has become the most common form of elder abuse in the U.S.”
Culbert said to note the following tips for protection:
• Do not provide personal information like Social Security number or credit/debit card numbers over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.
• If something sounds too good to be true (i.e., winning a prize/contest you don’t remember entering), it probably is too good to be true.
• Don’t sign any documents that you don’t fully understand without having a trusted advisor or family member review them first.
• Take your time. Don’t let someone rush you into doing something that you’re unsure of.
• Have your income (Social Security, retirement, etc.) directly deposited into your account. If you find yourself having trouble managing your finances, consider utilizing a money manager. But only someone who comes highly recommended that you can trust.
• If you’ve given banking information, like account number, debit card number or internet banking password, to someone who is scamming you, or if someone has obtained it without your consent, contact the bank immediately.
• To develop a network of family and friends, watch out for each other and ask for help.
“There are so many resources available,” Culbert said. “Please reach out to a trusted family member, a friend, your minister at church and yes, even your bank. If you have been scammed, report it. Contact local law enforcement, DHR and the Adult Abuse Hotline.”
She said AARP.org allows free signups for its service “watchdog alerts,” and these alerts are about recent scams that are taking place in the person’s area and is delivered to their email. She said the site also allows participants to report scams.
According to Culbert, WEAAD was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. She said the purpose of WEEAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social and economic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
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