PORTLAND, Maine (12/29/15)--Credit unions continue to receive press coverage for their work in combating financial elder abuse.
The Maine Credit Union League, long an advocate for protecting seniors financially, was recognized by the Portland Press Herald for its involvement in the Senior$afe program, which trains frontline employees at financial institutions to look out for common signs of fraud.
Since the program launched last year, credit unions and other financial institutions have reported 30 suspected cases of abuse to a special hotline created for Senior$afe.
That success spurred U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to co-sponsor a bill that would expand the program nationwide.
“Financial elder abuse is probably one of the greatest concerns we have in the financial industry right now,” Brenda Piecuch, vice president of compliance at PeoplesChoice CU, Saco, Maine, told The Portland Press Herald (Dec. 26). PeoplesChoice is one of the dozens of financial institutions in the state to train employees through Senior$afe.
Seniors “are prime targets for abuse, and we’re seeing that right now,” she added.
Next Avenue, an online resource for seniors, also named credit unions recently as leaders among financial institutions in the fight against financial elder abuse.
“We have found that the community development credit unions, in particular, are well positioned to qualify for an age-friendly seal of approval,” said Ramsay Alwin, vice president of economic security at the National Council on Aging.
Roger Nettie, CUNA Mutual Group senior consultant of risk management, explained to Next Avenue why seniors are targeted for fraud.
The elderly “have retirement savings that fraudsters want, which makes the aging population more vulnerable if they are not aware of the latest scams out there,” Nettie said. “Credit union members that fall for scams, unfortunately, are usually stuck with their own loss.”