New research has found that 94% of 45 to 70 year-olds believe financial service companies need to do more to protect older people from financial abuse.
The research from Hodge and Hourglass, the charity calling time on the harm, abuse and exploitation of older people, surveyed more than 2,000 people aged between 45-70, about financial fraud and older people.
It revealed that 27% know or care for an older person who has been a target of an online scam to access their finances in the last year, while around 14% know or care for an older person who has been the victim of economic abuse by a person they should be able to trust.
In addition, around eight in 10 people think older people are more vulnerable to economic abuse and scams because they don’t have the skills and knowledge to manage their finances online and keep themselves safe.
Meanwhile, 80% believe older people need to be more protected from financial abuse and nearly 70% of respondents are worried about the closure of physical bank branches.
The results have prompted Hodge and Hourglass to launch the Safer Ageing Initiative, to help older people and those who care for them keep their finances safer online.
Hodge has published tools and advice to help brokers and financial advisors identify the signs that might indicate one of their older clients could be a victim of economic abuse or vulnerable to financial harm, and also what can be done if they suspect their clients might be at risk.
David Landen, CEO of Hodge, is calling for all brokers and independent financial advisors to work alongside Hodge and other banks to help fight financial abuse online. He said: “Brokers and intermediaries are at the sharp end of these client relationships and often are the only people who meet face to face with these elderly clients to talk about financial issues.
“Our research has found many people believe their family members have been scammed financially – but familial fraud is also a real issue with the elderly, and at Hodge we believe brokers and IFAs have a real duty to look out for signs of financial abuse. That is why we have produced online guides to help them identify possible cases.
“As a digital first organisation and a financial services provider for older people, we have a great platform and a responsibility to increase awareness and take action on this specific aspect of the economic abuse of older people and we’re delighted to be taking our first steps in understanding and tackling economic abuse.
“As more aspects of our lives go digital only, older people without the right skills, support and access are increasingly being left open to exploitation. This research really brings home why it is so important we wake up as an industry and do more to address one of the most prevalent forms of abuse towards older people, economic abuse.”
Economic abuse is one of the most widespread forms of abuse of older people. Between 2017 and 2019, 39% of all calls to Hourglass’s helpline were about economic abuse and in 2020, at least £13 million was reported as stolen, defrauded, or coerced from older victims. The charity believes this is only the tip of the iceberg as so many instances of this abuse go unreported.
Richard Robinson, CEO of Hourglass, added: “Economic abuse is where someone in a position of trust interferes in an older person’s ability to acquire, use or maintain their finances. With the increasing digitisation of our finances, many older people are finding themselves without the skills and support to manage their money and at greater risk of this type of abuse.
“Some of the calls we get are heart-breaking. We are hearing reports of people losing their homes and savings as a result of this abuse. We’re working with Hodge to raise awareness of this often under reported issue and to try to do something to reduce the risks for older people.”