AARP collaborates w/ CUNA, ICBA on program to stop elder exploitation

May 8, 2019

AARP Wednesday launched the innovative BankSafe online training platform. The program is designed to empower bank and credit union employees with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to better understand and interact with older customers, identify signs of financial exploitation and take the right steps to protect the assets of older Americans.

The training platform, available at no cost to all banks and credit unions in the United States, combines AARP’s understanding of the needs and desires of older adults with the expertise of the financial industry.

More than 2,000 professionals from banks, credit unions, trade associations, adult protective service agencies, law enforcement agencies and the legal field were participants in AARP’s development of the training platform.

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and CUNA have signed on as founding distributors for the free training platform. Both organizations are teaming with AARP to encourage their members to participate in the training.

“The BankSafe training platform is the result of true collaboration between the financial industry and AARP,” said AARP’s BankSafe National Director Jilenne Gunther. “Together, we aim to create a nationwide network of highly trained professionals committed to helping older adults protect their life savings.”

Every year, financial institutions lose more than $1 billion in deposits due to the exploitation of Americans over 50 years of age. While Americans 50-plus are roughly a third of the U.S. population, they control more than two-thirds of U.S. retail bank deposits.

“Community banks are financial first responders who are committed to protecting the financial well-being of their customers and communities,” said ICBA President/CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey. “ICBA looks forward to working with AARP as we continue our ongoing efforts to safeguard America’s older adults from financial abuse.”

A 2016 AARP survey report found that 85% of adults over the age of 50 want their financial institution employees to be highly trained in order to detect and stop exploitation.

“CUNA is proud to continue its leadership in the fight against financial exploitation through our relationship with AARP,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “We hope credit unions nationwide will take advantage of this fresh, powerful new tool.”

The training platform, available in separate bank and credit union versions, is specifically designed for professionals with roles across all levels of financial institutions.

The training includes:

  • Interactive videos, real-life scenarios and games to test skills in a fun and engaging manner;
  • A self-paced training approach. Users can complete the one-hour training in one sitting or by completing short, bite-size activities during breaks or free time;
  • State-specific information and resources to ensure regulatory standards and requirements are met;
  • Reporting and administrator features that allow managers and supervisors to monitor staff progress and performance; and
  • A library of tip sheets, templates and other resources on topics ranging from deciphering dementia in customers to self-audit checklists on institutional policies, training and processes.

As part of the BankSafe program, financial institutions can apply to have AARP verify that at least 80 percent of their frontline staff successfully passed the BankSafe training and confirm that they have a financial-exploitation escalation or reporting policy.

Qualifying banks and credit unions can apply to receive a seal from AARP, good for one year, recognizing their commitment to fighting exploitation.