Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping is backing a new campaign to help protect older people in Gedling borough from financial abuse
Mr Tipping has joined up with Action on Elder Abuse to encourage older people and their families to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.
Data from the charity suggests that as many as 140 older people in Gedling borough are likely to be currently experiencing financial abuse.
Typical financial crimes perpetrated against older people include fraud, forgery or embezzlement; the misuse of proxy decision-making powers; ‘doorstep crime’, e.g. bogus tradesmen and postal, phone or internet scams.
Ways in which older people can help keep themselves safe include:
- Checking bank statements regularly and tracking receipts
- Reducing how much money can be taken from an account at any one time
- Having a copy of bank statements sent to someone trustworthy to check
- Limiting the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money
- Keeping important documents and valuables out of sight
- Never letting anyone into your home unless you can confirm their identity or they have made an appointment
- Only booking work on a house through ‘trusted trader’ schemes
- Treat anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited with suspicion and note that banks will never ask you for your account number or pin details.
In instances where an individual is not in a position to protect themselves from financial abuse (e.g. they have dementia), families and friends are asked to look out for signs that abuse may be taking place. Such indications include:
- Signatures on official documents that do not resemble the person’s own
- Changes in banking habits (e.g. large sums of money being withdrawn)
- The inclusion of additional names on bank accounts
- Abrupt changes to, or the sudden establishment of, Wills
- Sudden and unexplained transfers of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
- The unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions
- The deliberate isolation of an older person from friends and family, resulting in a carer having total control.
- The sudden introduction of a Power of Attorney document that places control with an unknown Third Party
Paddy Tipping said: “This is one of those hidden crimes where criminals target more vulnerable members of our community. There is no doubt that elder abuse is a problem and one which can often go unreported until it’s too late. I hope that this awareness campaign and advice on prevention will help to protect people.
“Anyone who is being abused themselves or who suspects someone may be at risk should report it to the police immediately.”
Action on Elder Abuse Chief Executive, Gary FitzGerald, said: “Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit them. Financial abuse can take many forms – it’s everything from carers or family pilfering money to phone scams and having Power of Attorney misappropriated. Very often, the perpetrator is someone close to the older person, such as a relative or carer.
“So we want to equip older people to protect themselves where appropriate and for those who love them to spot the signs that their older friend or relative may be being abused. Talking about things such as internet safety and ‘stranger danger’ is something we do routinely with our children. It’s about time we took the issue of abuse of older people just as seriously.”
Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) offering advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.