One in 10 people over 65 experiences some form of abuse
Heartland Bank (Heartland) has released tips on how the financial services industry can help customers avoid financial abuse following World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
In New Zealand, one in 10 people over 65 years old experiences some form of elder abuse – with 79% of alleged abusers being family members, according to Age Concern New Zealand.
Andrew Ford, the general manager for reverse mortgages at Heartland, said everyone should feel safe and free of harm and coercion when making financial decisions.
“Taking out a reverse mortgage is a financial decision that should be carefully considered,” Ford said. “Because of this, we require all customers to obtain independent legal advice and encourage them to seek financial advice – we also carefully look out for any signs of potential financial abuse.
“Our people are trained to identify any potential signs of vulnerability along with situations where there is not a clear benefit for our customer.”
Ford revealed that Heartland has significant safeguards and processes to protect customers throughout the decision-making process and their loan duration.
“The Heartland Reverse Mortgage team receives numerous enquiries from children of potential customers. The vast majority are trying to help their parents live a more comfortable retirement. Our processes ensure our customers make an informed decision and that they benefit from the loan,” he said.
If the company finds customers who may be experiencing some type of financial abuse, it will delay or not offer the loan, request permission to speak with other family members, or contact the police to arrange a welfare visit or concerning fraud.