The Northeast Tennessee Chapter of Credit Union devoted its first meeting of 2024 to increasing awareness among credit union professionals about elder abuse, including financial abuse and exploitation.
The panel discussion was moderated by Kim Bohannon, chief innovation officer at the Tennessee Credit Union League who has an extensive credit union compliance background. Panelists included Elizabeth Taylor, assistant general counsel with Eastman Credit Union, Shelli Allison, compliance/risk management manager at Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, and Suzanne Reynolds, Adult Protective Services.
Unfortunately, credit unions are seeing more financial abuse and exploitation. Oftentimes, the perpetrators are the victims’ family members.
“Frontline staff really is the first defense in helping to catch financial fraud,” said Shelli Allison, BSACS, compliance/risk management manager at Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union. “Frontline staff are the ones who get to know the members and need to look for behaviors, which may not be the norm. We need more training of how to ask questions and deal with difficult situations. We get cases every week regarding elder exploitation, so it is a huge problem financial institutions face. We also need to educate members about fraud. Once a member is in the middle of a scam, it is so hard to talk them out of it. They just simply do not believe us, and it is one of the most frustrating aspects of fraud.”
Signs of Financial Abuse and Exploitation
Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation. You should be concerned over:
- A lack of basic necessities a victim could afford.
- A vulnerable elder or adult “voluntarily” giving unusually large gifts of money or large payments for needed care or companionship.
- A caregiver with control of an elder’s money but who fails to provide for the elder’s needs.
- A vulnerable senior or adult who signs property transfers or official documents but clearly cannot understand what those documents mean or what they have done.
If you are interested in learning more, please save the date for the 2024 Tennessee Elder Justice Conference in Gatlinburg, Oct. 27-31.