Vera Baird

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Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria backs charity campaign to help protect older people from financial abuse

26th January 2017

Dame Vera Baird the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, has joined Action on Elder Abuse in urging older people and their families to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.

Data from the charity suggests that as many as 1,341 older people across Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Northumberland Figure calculated using UK Study of Abuse and Neglect

of Older People Prevalence Survey Report (O’Keefe et al 2007) and ONS data may currently be 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.

The PCC and Action on Elder Abuse have said that older people can help keep themselves safe by:

  • 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 the bank statement 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 older person is not in a position to protect themselves from financial abuse (e.g. they have dementia), the charity advises that families and loved ones stay vigilant to spot the signs that abuse may be taking place. These include:

Signatures on official documents that do not resemble the older person’s own Changes in banking habits (e.g.           large sums of money being withdrawn)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

The charity is urging anyone who has concerns that they, or someone close to them is being financially abused to call its confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) which can offer support and advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.

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.”

Dame Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumberland added:

“Elder abuse is a big problem and one that often goes unreported so I’m very pleased that Action on Elder Abuse is raising awareness of the issue and what the public can do to combat it.

“I urge anyone who is either being abused themselves or suspects a loved one may be at risk to be vigilant and report it to the police.”

Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) offering advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.