Keeping the elderly safe from scammers and fraudsters

Keeping the elderly safe from scammers and fraudsters

$12 million bucks. That’s the amount New Zealanders lost to scams in the last year alone, and the amount is notching up each year.

As the attacks become increasingly sophisticated and hard to spot, the customers most vulnerable are our aged customers, and those with a disability or impairment – this includes people living with dementia, which is New Zealand’s fastest growing disease.

September is Alzheimers Month and a good time to remind everyone of the things to look out for to keep you and your family members financially safe.

Some signs of financial abuse are:

  1. If bills are left unpaid or large sums of money have been withdrawn;
  2. Unusual or seemingly unneeded purchases in the home – these items could have been mis-sold by unscrupulous cold callers or telesales companies;
  3. Missing valuables or workmen visiting to carry unnecessary work;
  4. Sudden new friends and acquaintances – in particular those who the person says are inquiring about moving in, taking trips together or making joint financial commitments;
  5. Large amounts of cash kept at home – this could be a sign that the person is vulnerable and, withdrawing large amounts of cash puts them at risk of theft or burglary.

Our top tips for keeping your money safe if you or a family member might be showing symptoms of dementia:

  1. Speak to your bank and alert your local Bank Manager of your needs. At Westpac, we can put a special note on your account , so appropriate help is provided to you. Our people have also been educated to help people living with dementia and can offer ways of managing and protecting your money simply.
  2. Discuss money management with your family. It’s important to put a plan in place, ideally before you need help. Get all important papers in order and let someone you trust know where to find them. These include bank statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, a will, tax and pension details, bills or guarantees.
  3. Set up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) before you need one.  An EPA lets the bank know who has authority to make decisions on your behalf about things such as paying bills and collecting income when you are unable to.
  4. Have co-signee processes in place. This creates greater transparency and helps keep customers’ money safe.

Taking action to stay financially safe when dementia is a factor can help relieve the pressure on you and your family. So come and talk to us, or to find out more information visit www.westpac.co.nz/dementia for more info.

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