Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Chris Mondics. Staff from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Institute on Protective Services, and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging were all interviewed for and mentioned in the study released by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO). The full study can be obtained at www.goa.gov.
Banks and other financial institutions are an important line of defense against scammers seeking to defraud the elderly, but too often tellers and branch managers are not trained to recognize the warning signs, says a Government Accountability Office report issued Thursday.
The study, which looked at programs aimed at fighting fraud that targets the elderly in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, said that out of misguided concern they might breach federal privacy laws, banks and other financial institutions are sometimes reluctant to share information with agencies that work to protect older people from financial crimes.
“Banks are well-positioned to recognize, report, and provide evidence supporting investigations,” said Kay E. Brown, director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security at the GAO. “However, many social-services and law enforcement officials we spoke with indicated banks do not always recognize and report exploitation or provide evidence needed to investigate it.”
The report was released at the outset of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington on efforts nationally to combat elder financial abuse. (Click here to read the full article)