directives have been designed that specifically permit banks to notify account holders and other named parties of activity that is inconsistent with the account holders’ usual banking patterns (Tom, 2001).58 Alternatively, financial institutions could be included within the list of mandated reporters of elder abuse, as in Arizona, although the banking industry has been reported to resist such inclusion because of its fear of additional government control over and involvement in its operations (Choi et al., 1999; Tom, 2001). Some states have instituted laws that specifically provide immunity to employees of financial institutions who had reasonable suspicion that a consumer is a victim of financial abuse and reported this information to the proper authorities (Jackson, 2000).

Businesses Providing Services to the Elderly

Businesses that routinely provide services to the elderly can also help minimize the potential for financial abuse of the elderly. For example, it has been noted that many utility companies offer helpful services such as direct payment plans, warning programs to notify customers before services are turned off due to nonpayment, and payment averaging plans (Central California Legal Services, 2001).

Attorneys

Attorneys are another group of individuals who may be well positioned to identify and respond to the potential financial abuse of the elderly. It has been suggested that attorneys be sensitive to the potential for financial abuse when drawing up powers of attorney or other legal documents (Podnieks, 1992) and proactively advise clients to limit the authority granted when establishing a power of attorney (Zimka, 1997). In addition, it has been suggested that steps be implemented to monitor an agent’s activity by requiring an annual reporting to an outside party of the financial transactions undertaken, including a listing of income and expenses (Zimka, 1997). Another avenue is to encourage attorneys to ensure that older persons who

   

financial institutions to contact government entities and disclose otherwise private customer records and information concerning suspected violations of the law and that this would encompass elder abuse reports (U.S. Congress, 2000).

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A similar approach has been implemented in Canada, where older persons have begun authorizing their banks to monitor their accounts for unusually large transactions or unusual patterns of transactions, to subsequently raise concerns with the account holder, and to warn of the possibility of fraud (Smith, 1999). Resistance to financial advance directives has reportedly come primarily from larger financial institutions that cite additional paperwork and exposure to large class-action lawsuits as their reasons for not endorsing this approach (Smith, 1999).



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