North Carolina CU Combats Elder Fraud
The effort is especially targeted at helping older NCSECU members avoid a variety of rip-offs, including identity theft and elder financial abuse.
Leigh Brady, senior vice president of education services, explained work started more than a year ago in partnership with the state attorney general's senior fraud task force. The head of NCSECU's security administration serves on that group, and an elder financial abuse committee was formed within the credit union.
One of the first steps was offering all the credit union's employees training about signs of such financial abuse. The attorney general's office and Adult Protective Services came in to help.
"We wanted to train our people and give them examples of things to look for to identify members who might become victims," Brady said.
"For example, perhaps an elderly member always came in alone every week to cash a $50 check. Suddenly, the member starts coming in with a man who is helping her around the house. Over time he is doing more and more around the house, and the member is getting larger amounts of cash every week. That now sends up a red flag to our employees that something out of the ordinary is happening."
"An older member may apply for a large home equity loan and they may be vague about how they will use the money. Somebody may be accompanying them who is not a family member--or may even be a family member."
In addition to the attorney general's office, Adult Protective Services and the Division of Aging and Adult Services, the credit union has worked closely with the North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees Association. It became obvious there was strong interest in identity theft and preventing scams.
So the credit union held the first Scam Jam at its operations center in Raleigh. Iron Mountain, which handles the credit union's shredding, agreed to donate its services for the day. It was a Saturday, but some 20 or 30 employees turned out as well as more than 100 members.
Based on that experience, NCSECU plans similar efforts in more rural areas in the state. Those events will be fine tuned based on what the credit union learned at the first Scam Jam. For example, there was strong interest in presentations on identity theft and avoiding scams, but less interest in monitoring a credit report.
Experience has also shown seniors prefer events early in the day. Spring and fall will be the best times, when the weather is not too hot or cold. The operations center proved a little difficult for members to find, so future events will probably be held at one of the credit union branches.
Brady advises credit unions interested in staging similar events to develop relationships with the state attorney general's office and the consumer protection staff. They can be gatekeepers, she said. She also suggests working with associations representing your core membership group.
"The more partners, the better," she indicated. "Go to civic groups and give presentations on scams and fraud. Don't hesitate to get involved."