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New ABA Foundation Research Shows U.S. Banks Stepping Up Efforts to Protect Older Americans From Financial Abuse

WASHINGTON —

Banks of all sizes continue to increase focus and investment in elder fraud prevention, according to the 2019 Older Americans Benchmarking Report released today by the ABA Foundation. The biennial report, the most expansive survey of the banking industry’s efforts to protect seniors, captures data on how banks across the country educate older Americans, respond to fraudulent activity and train their staff to protect older customers.

The report found that 90 percent of respondent banks now require additional, specialized training for frontline staff to help spot elder financial abuse, up from 71 percent in 2017. Older customers are more likely to visit a branch than to use online banking, making it critical that frontline staff know to look out for behavioral changes and other red flags associated with financial abuse. Additionally, more than 60 percent of banks surveyed now have at least one employee specifically designated to lead efforts on elder financial abuse and fraud prevention.

“Our research confirms what we see and hear from bankers every day – that elder fraud protection has become an enterprise-wide effort,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day and older Americans holding up to 70 percent of all deposit balances, banks have invested heavily to stay ahead of criminals and develop innovative ways to serve and protect this growing and important customer segment. We look forward to sharing this report with policymakers, law enforcement and other stakeholders as we work collectively to better protect seniors.”

Banks are embracing their roles as leaders in customer education and outreach to help protect seniors from fraud. According to the report, 56 percent of all survey respondents currently host community outreach and education events for older customers, up from 47 percent in 2017. Some of these outreach events are part of the ABA Foundation’s Safe Banking for Seniors program, which launched in 2015 to reduce the billions lost annually to fraud perpetrated against older customers. The Safe Banking for Seniors program provides resources to help banks host community outreach events and educate their senior customers about how to protect their finances.

The 2019 survey also found that banks are increasingly collaborating with their communities to protect older Americans. Eighty-one percent of banks surveyed listed partnering with local Adult Protective Services as a key action when handling suspected instances of elder fraud, up from 62 percent in 2017.

The ABA Foundation is grateful to JPMorgan Chase for its sponsorship of the 2019 Older Americans Benchmarking Report. ABA Foundation also thanks Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank and BB&T for their continued support of the Safe Banking for Seniors program.

The ABA Foundation survey included banks of all sizes representing more than 90 percent of the U.S. banking population. To view the full Older Americans Benchmarking Report, click here. To learn more about the ABA Foundation’s Safe Banking for Seniors program, visit aba.com/seniors.

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About the American Bankers Association

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $18 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks. Together, America’s banks employ more than 2 million men and women, safeguard $14 trillion in deposits and extend more than $10 trillion in loans.

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