From a LinkedIn editorial published on 5/15/16.

By Jim Nussle, President & CEO at America’s Credit Unions; CUNA Credit Union National Association

Protecting Our Seniors on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Today advocates from around the globe will meet in Washington, DC for the third Global Summit on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse, including financial exploitation, is such a global problem that June 15 has been named World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations since 2006. It is unfortunate that we need such a day but inspiring that there are so many willing to advocate with, and on behalf of seniors who may vulnerable to abuse.

Serving Seniors in Their Communities is an Important Part of the Mission of Credit Unions

America’s credit unions are dedicated to meeting the financial needs of all consumers, and serving the seniors in their communities is an important part of their mission.* At today’s summit, staff from North Carolina’s State Employees Credit Union will be on the agenda to discuss financial abuse issues plaguing older adults and the legislation that could address the issues affecting our seniors. I applaud State Employees Credit Union for dedicating their time to advocate on this important matter.

Regrettably, there are people who take advantage of the elderly, which is why it is important for all of us to make sure we are doing everything we can to identify and address elder abuse whether it happens online, over the phone, in person by fraudsters, or even by trusted individuals such as caretakers or family members.

Credit union employees, like those at State Employees Credit Union, often know the senior members they serve in their local community personally and can be an invaluable resource in planning for all the joys, as well as the challenges, associated with growing older.

More That Can Be Done

While credit unions can serve as the first line of defense in recognizing the signs and signals associated with this abuse, on the Federal level there’s more that could be done to enhance their ability to notify the proper authorities. The Senior$afe Act (S. 223), introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), would be an important step toward improving the ability of credit unions to protect seniors from unscrupulous activity by providing legal immunity for properly trained financial services employees who disclose concerns about potential financial exploitation of senior citizens.

This common-sense legislation would allow for enhanced safety measures for some of our most vulnerable citizens and would be instrumental in providing even more opportunity for credit unions and other financial institutions to protect our nation’s seniors. CUNA strongly supports this legislation and is actively working with its supporters in Congress to secure its enactment.

*  On Thursday, June 22, Mid Oregon Credit Union will be presenting a free workshop, “How to Avoid Scams that Target Seniors”, at our East Bend branch at 1386 NE Cushing Drive. Sgt. Dan Ritchie, City of Bend Police Department, Cyber Crime Recognition and Prevention Program will be the presenter.