Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, 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 1,553 older people in Merseyside 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.
Jane Kennedy, Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside, said: “Sadly, elder abuse is a big problem and one that can take place anywhere, even in the victim’s own home. In many cases the perpetrators are known to the victim and may even by the person who has been trusted to care for them.
“All of this can make the reporting of these crimes very difficult, which is why I am working with Action on Elder Abuse to raise awareness of the issue and highlight steps the public can take to combat it.
“It is vital that we draw attention to this problem and bring these often hidden crimes out into the open. 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 or to Action on Elder Abuse’s confidential helpline.”
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- Changes in banking habits (e.g. large sums of money being withdrawn)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.”
Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) offering advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.
|AREA||ALL OVER 65||NUMBER OF OLDER PEOPLE LIKELY TO BE EXPERIENCING ABUSE|
|Merseyside (Met County)||258,883||1553|
* Figure calculated using UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People Prevalence Survey Report (O’Keefe et al 2007) and ONS data.
Action on Elder Abuse is a UK-wide charity with a presence in all four nations. It aims to protect and prevent the abuse of vulnerable older people by raising awareness of the issues, encouraging education and giving information and support to those in need.
It has the only national freephone helpline (Elder Abuse Response) dedicated to this cause, open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm on 080 8808 8141 for confidential support and information.
For more information, please visit www.elderabuse.org.uk