Banks renew push to curb elder abuse

Banking group lobbies Government to establish new financial elder abuse service.

elder abuse

The cynics among us might say the banks’ latest campaign push is a bid to buff their tarnished image in the wake of the financial services royal commission.

However … for the rest of population, the banking association is renewing its efforts to expose and contain financial elder abuse.

With more older Australians with money in the kitty courtesy of compulsory superannuation, Australian Banking Association (ABA) chief executive Anna Bligh has called on the Federal Government to establish a new service to protect older Australians from financial abuse.

In the YourLifeChoices 2019 Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement survey, almost 37 per cent of the 3380 respondents said that leaving an inheritance was either important or very important. However, it seems that many intended recipients can’t get their inheritance soon enough.

Ms Bligh says that “inheritance impatience” is one of the most prevalent forms of financial abuse across Australia.

“Bank staff have told me stories of attempting to intervene in situations where they see money drained out of the accounts of pensioners, often for items ... such as holidays or expensive jewellery, but the victim is unwilling or unable to report what is really happening," she told The Age.

“The growing problem of elder financial abuse in our community is an uncomfortable truth that every Australian should be aware of.”

The ABA reports that six in 10 Australians are worried that someone they know will be the victim of financial elder abuse and that 87 per cent of Australians want the Government to do more to stop it. It attributes the prevalence of elder abuse to increased house prices and reasonable superannuation balances.

“This can lead to family members feeling a sense of entitlement, with some people referring to it as inheritance impatience,” says the ABA.

The ABA wants a national online register of power of attorney orders as well as a designated body in each state and territory to report financial elder abuse.

The Federal Government announced funding for an online register in its May budget.

Seniors Rights Service chief executive Russell Westacott told The Age that an overwhelming majority of cases it sees are based around financial elder abuse.

“Every year, we see 650 presentations of people experiencing elder abuse, which means every day our doors are open we see at least two or three people,” he said.

“Of these, most people report financial abuse and they carry the shame that it has been perpetrated, most often, by a son, daughter or grandchild.

“This abuse is unacceptable. We need to stop it.”

The ABA wants concerned individuals to sign its petition or contact their state, territory or federal attorney-general to seek key changes to better recognise, report and prevent financial elder abuse.

It describes financial elder abuse as:

  • Spending money without permission, forging signatures, coercing someone to sign something, pension-skimming, using a person’s bank account or credit card without their consent, denying a person access to their money or bank statements.
  • A loan that is never paid back.
  • Threatening or pressuring an older person to invest in something on their behalf.
  • Making someone provide care or other services without being paid or fairly compensated.
  • An expectation to pay someone’s expenses.
  • Pressures, tricks or threats to get someone to change a will, power of attorney or other legal arrangements.
  • Coercing a person to go guarantor on a loan.

Does financial elder abuse concern you? How would you deal with the problem if it happened to you? Do you support the ABA’s campaign?

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    COMMENTS

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    Ted Wards
    7th Aug 2019
    10:22am
    Yes my brother borrowed thousands of dollars from my father and never paid it back. Now my father has passed away and we are looking at what's left, he gets the lion's share although he's had the majority of it whilst dad was alive. If my sister and I want to fight it it is going to literally cost us anything we may inherit and more. So you see elder abuse is also upheld through a ridiculous system where even though the law is on our side as is GOvernment rhetoric, the truth is he will get away with the abuse and have lots of money besides it because we simply cannot afford to fight this injustice. There is plenty of paperwork to show what he did. One of the most ridiculous stories he told was that he was at mum and dads having lunch and someone broke into his car where he had a very expensive camera sitting on the backseat and a brief case. The briefcase contained $10,000 and lo and behold they stole just the $10,000 and didn't even break the briefcase to get it. This occurred many times, turns out he is a heavy gambler. He also asked my sister and her husband for $10,000 "loan" but they refused knowing that he would never pay her back. The problem continues to occur because many insidious things support it including the law.
    Rosret
    7th Aug 2019
    12:30pm
    Sounds like your Dad was saving his son from harm. What a pity he couldn't get help for him.
    Some children cost their parents more than others. Gambling is an illness. I would imagine he ruined his marriage and family home as well.
    Be glad you are you even if the cut of the pie seems unfair.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    3:32pm
    Better to have left him to his own failures.....

    Old people sometimes make some poor decisions, but as for trustees, they are either expensive vultures and power of attorney leaves much open space for abuse.

    The ex's old ma-in-law's estate caused a lot of trouble... and the ex has gone to a lot of trouble to avoid it repeating.

    My father did some silly things with his estate - cut out anyone who didn't kow-tow etc, and then made the dopiest family member with zero sense of responsibility the executor - because she sucked up to him.

    Before the grand-kids named got their share it was all gone.

    I just made mine over to my two kids equally. No arguments.
    Farside
    7th Aug 2019
    6:20pm
    am waiting to see the fallout after my mother-in-law dies in coming weeks/months after several years of her savings being plundered by two of her daughters to fuel their gambling addictions. It was not so bad at first when MIL would go out for lunches with them but it has become a disgrace as this escalated after MIL entered the nursing home. They are unashamedly taking advantage of the situation while the MIL's daughter with power of attorney lives interstate and turns a blind eye.
    Realist
    7th Aug 2019
    11:17am
    "Banks want to stop elder abuse" What an absolute joke... What about stopping banks PERPETRATING "elder abuse".

    KNOWING I am on the old age pension and have little to live on they have increased EVERY payment I have to make to them - when an interest rate cut happens they PUT UP the payments on my loans.

    Don't get me started on the obscene amount of money they pay to the VERMIN they call CEO's.

    I cannot get out of their "clutches" due to a Liberal Federal government, engineering the TOTAL collapse of the WA real estate market.
    Farside
    7th Aug 2019
    6:23pm
    how did a federal government go about "engineering the TOTAL collapse of the WA real estate market."? What would be its motivation given WA is a bastion of right thinking voters?
    Rae
    8th Aug 2019
    8:21am
    They may not have engineered the WA property market collapse but seeing the LNP has been in power and control for almost all of the past 30 years we have to say the damage happened on LNP watch and that they are failing to look after ordinary workers and savers.

    It is time the LNP lifted their game. They now have control of both Houses of Parliament and we shall see how they go about fixing the problems Australians are experiencing.

    The LNP has all the power now so no excuses and no blaming anyone else.
    Farside
    8th Aug 2019
    12:12pm
    I am not arguing about the economic performance of the LNP, history will record that many of the ills we experience today result from poor decisions by Howard and Costello more than 20 years ago. That said WA has also been regularly burned by incompetent state governments of both persuasions. My comment was directed at the WA real estate market, and its collapse is more of an own goal.The WA real estate market boomed on the back of the resources boom and when it slowed crashed almost as fast. Little of this had much to do with the government of the day but more to do with normal cycles associated with mining towns.

    7th Aug 2019
    11:44am
    My oh my, the banks are trying to clean up their image by pointing away from themselves and trying to pretend that there are worse things happening than fees for non service, high borrowing rates and low investment rates. There are privacy laws in Australia and the banks cannot interfere in what people are doing just because a teenage teller doesn't like what they think may be happening. If I choose to give a child a Power of Attorney and that child steals from me and I choose not to lodge a complaint, what has it to do with anyone else? Conversely, if anyone uses my bank account illegally the bank has to pay out immediately as it is them that are at fault and it is them that has to recover the funds through the legal system. Methinks that the banks are again trying to cover their arse.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    3:33pm
    Well put, sir... take two jelly beans...
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    4:07pm
    If I ask for black ones, Bob, am I being a racist?
    Anonymous
    8th Aug 2019
    1:41am
    Most likely ..... and Yellow and Red might be dodgy, too... Green I doubt would fit your personal choice profile...
    Sinic
    7th Aug 2019
    11:55am
    Don’t forget the elder abuse by the LNP and Greens when they stole part pensioners assets with the changes to the Pensioner Assets Test from 2017.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    12:12pm
    What "part pensioners assets" were stolen Mad as Hell?
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    1:30pm
    No one had anything stolen at all.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    2:01pm
    Quite correct, Mad as Hell, most not having their head in the sand agree with you, and know that the nasty changes by the Lib Govt to the Assets Test was a massive doubling of this Retiree Tax on savers, hence stealing from the part-pensioners assets to pay for their own budget failures.

    Also, Centrelink is their administration arm to mete out elder abuse through harassment (robo-debt being a particularly odious example) on daily basis. The only way to get this Govt-sponsored elder abuse is to scrap the Broken Age Pension system, and implement Universal Age Pension (as in other civilised advanced countries) with NO tests other than Age and Residency period.
    Realist
    7th Aug 2019
    2:48pm
    @GeorgeM

    Could not agree more...
    Thoughtful
    7th Aug 2019
    3:19pm
    @GeorgeM

    So true. It would be good to close the gaps for any further elder abuse by any government.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    3:54pm
    As always the Big Bear (a LNP troll) is clueless.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    4:16pm
    If you do a little bit of research, GeorgeM, you will find that most of the countries which provide a universal age pension don't supply a whole lot of money, certainly much less than Australia. Whilst it's all well and good to make the statement "(as in other civilised advanced countries)", it's worthy to note that 90% of the world is excluded from old age pension schemes. Perhaps some meat on the bones of your post with actual details of the amounts handed out as against the cost of living in those few countries may go a way to telling the whole story.
    Rae
    8th Aug 2019
    8:34am
    It is probably a good thing to have kept out of the Centrelink clutches even if we did lose the concession card promised after decades of high taxes, no government rebates or subsidies and mostly forced contributions after full taxation.

    At least when the home is added to the asset test and a welfare card introduced we won't have to worry about our home being stolen out from under us.

    Or receiving a robodebt notice. Worse thing is saving like crazy but we have worried them a bit with falls in retail and hospitality as we tighten the purse strings. Serves the bastards right.

    And learning that the Greens could be vicious and manipulated was eye opening. I'd actually started voting for them. Not any more.

    By breaking the No Disadvantage in legislation agreement both the LNP and Greens were guilty of ideological hatred. It was unionists they were after to punish. Make no mistake about that aspect of the whole shemozzle.

    But the LNP are firmly in power now. Let's see how clever they are at fixing the messes they have made. I suspect they have set enough time bombs to defuse to keep themselves very busy indeed. They didn't expect to be in power much less this much power. It's going to make fine watching .

    Not being a dependent of government right now it a very good thing I suspect.
    KSS
    7th Aug 2019
    12:23pm
    Twice in the past I have been contacted by my bank because they noticed strange/different spending on my accounts. The first was on my credit card and was not done by me and the bank acted immediately to recover the spend (approx $3500). The second was because I was overseas and there was a transaction which was done by me.

    If banks already do this what is the problem with this proposal for dealing with financial abuse of older Australians? Instead of dismissing it out of hand simply because a bank made the suggestion, why not give it some serious thought. After all it could well be YOU it protects!



    [Comment edited by the moderator]
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    12:36pm
    And there is another side to banks protecting clients, KSS. We booked out of a hotel in Dublin, paid by debit card, caught the ferry to Wales, tried to pay for a hire car and were refused. The bank knew where we were travelling but the system blocked the transaction because we were in two different countries on the same morning. Luckily the car hire company accepted my wife's debit card.
    Rosret
    7th Aug 2019
    12:43pm
    Who would they phone though?
    I think the parent withdraws the money for the adult children because they love their children despite making their own life difficult.

    The best solution is to tie up money in shares, term deposits, extra savings accounts etc so it isn't all "visible" in the everyday accounts.
    Rae
    8th Aug 2019
    8:41am
    I've had no trouble with my bank. They are very good, helpful and have allowed me to borrow when needed over decades. Recent changes actually cost debtors and lower costs for savers so that is also great.

    I have an account seperate from the transaction account and no money can be taken out of there without my verbal say so and use of passwords.

    Blaming banks for family fraud is not fair. Rosret is right. The money is given but then regret sets in. Thinking carefully about actions and consequences before doing anything is a good idea. Learning to say No even better.
    Anonymous
    8th Aug 2019
    9:24am
    Old Man - always good to have 2 cards. Surprised the car hire company accepted your debit card - in Ireland last year they insisted on a credit card. Explained that a debit card could have very little money on it apart from the hire fee and any damage caused could not be charged against the empty account. A cruise recently insisted on a credit card for the same reason. I have a Visa debit card but still no luck.
    Rosret
    7th Aug 2019
    12:25pm
    This like the wolf telling the foxes to back off the carrion.
    It would be nice if they checked cheque signatures against power of attorney provisions.
    It would be nice if they issued Visa cards that did not have Paywave.
    It would be really nice if the bank actually did look after the client and not lock up their account so they have cache. Perhaps the banks should research how many home loans are out their because adult children have been bolstered by the Bank of Mum and Dad.

    The banks and the government must really dislike retirees having the freedom to make their own investment decisions.
    Chris B T
    7th Aug 2019
    12:46pm
    Banks can Stop Elder Abuse By Not Allowing The Elder Person From Being Guarantor In the First Place.
    The Other That Would Never Happen Is To only Chase The Debt Defaulter, especially when it is Realised as Sham. Take Possession of The Elder Person's Property When They Die at Least.
    Not Force Sale, put a caveat on Property if worried about The Sham Family Member.
    The Government can only Do So Much, the Banks Have The Power To Deny a Loan Now.
    Shame!
    BrianP
    7th Aug 2019
    1:47pm
    For those of us without the luxury of a nice superfund there is the other kind of elder abuse which is even more widespread. Can we please not forget to do something to give more protection to these vulnerable elder Mums and Dads?

    I am talking about adult children who have failed to provide for themselves. For whatever reason they cannot cope with the pace of life and have not learned how to survive on their own in the modern world. So they get their parents to provide the basics like a place to live or meals and financial support.

    It goes further very rapidly as the offspring get used to elderly parents doing things for them. Gaming addiction, which was recognized last year by the World Health Organisation as a serious epidemic often leads to great dependence on parents to provide cooking, washing clothes and many other chores the adult child should be doing. So elder parents become unpaid slaves.

    You might say throw them out! It is amazing how many parents are intimidated and coerced by youngsters who become expert at manipulating Mum and Dads love and good nature. There is never a good outcome. Many lead to violence and cruelty. These cases are much more numerous as it becomes harder for people to provide for themselves.

    Specialist social workers are being trained in this scenario due to the widespread need. But a lot more needs to be done through cooperation between government, police and support services to prevent this and encourage vulnerable elderly parents to seek help.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    3:56pm
    "For whatever reason they cannot cope with the pace of life and have not learned how to survive on their own in the modern world."

    That is more often than not down to an inadequate upbringing by the parents.
    Anonymous
    7th Aug 2019
    9:40pm
    I've known more than one who do not wish to succeed, since they rely entirely on their parent's success, and feel no need to work or do something for themselves.

    7th Aug 2019
    3:51pm
    Basic axiom: ALL BANKS ARE BASTARDS. Absolutely nothing they do will ever rehabilitate their standing with the public.
    Realist
    7th Aug 2019
    4:15pm
    @intellego
    you speak the absolute unequivocal truth....
    54-11
    7th Aug 2019
    4:57pm
    Yep, dead right. Can't polish a turd.
    Farside
    7th Aug 2019
    6:32pm
    54-11, your assertion that you can't polish a turd was disproved several years ago on Mythbusters. You can in fact polish a turd.
    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2lrkhj
    Erin
    8th Aug 2019
    8:28am
    You are so right.
    Erin
    8th Aug 2019
    8:24am
    The CBA itself, is guilty of elder abuse, especially relating to refunds for fees for no service. They are telling elderly customers that they are not entitled to refunds or interest because they signed an agreement 10 years ago. Then they make an offer which they call a 'Goodwill'/'Ex gratia payment', not a refund, explaining that they are not obliged to pay interest. CBA should investigate itself first.
    Farside
    8th Aug 2019
    12:16pm
    My mother received a five figure refund from NAB for not providing the account review and advice they had claimed. Thank you Royal Commission.

    8th Aug 2019
    11:16am
    I support the ABA’s campaign wholeheartedly.
    Elder financial abuse is devastating and can happen to anyone. I don’t care what the banks' intentions are but I applaud any action to stop this type of abuse. I have seen a lot of it in my work but on many occasions have been unable to do much about it.

    According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, Australia’s Financial services employees are often in the best, and sometimes the only position, to recognise financial elder abuse as it occurs. Frontline staff at banks know this is happening but their hands are tied. I have written and spoken exhaustively about this to many organisations, so to see something is being done is extremely heartening.
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