Bedfordshire’s PCC has joined national charity, Action on Elder Abuse, to encourage older people to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.
Kathryn Holloway is working with the charity to offer advice on how older people can keep themselves safe.
The charity gathered data that suggests that as many as 155 people over the age of 65 in Luton may be experiencing financial abuse.
Financial crimes against older people include fraud, forgery or embezzlement, the misuse of proxy decision making powers, or phone scams.
Kathryn Holloway said: “Taking financial advantage of the elderly is a vast problem and one that often goes unreported so I’m very pleased that Action on Elder Abuse is raising awareness of the issue and what the public can do to combat it.
“I would like to urge anyone who is either being abused themselves or suspects a loved one may be at risk is on their guard and report it to the police.”
The PCC and Action on Elder Abuse are advising older people to check their bank statements regularly, reduce the amount of money that can be taken from their account at any one time, limit the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money, keep important documents and valuables out of sight and never let anyone in their home unless they can confirm their identity.
Where an older person is not in a position to protect themselves from financial abuse, the charity advises that families stay vigilant to spot the signs that abuse may be taking place.
These include signatures on official documents that do not resemble the older person’s, changes in banking habits, the inclusion of additional names on bank accounts, abrupt changes to wills, the unexplained disappearance of funds or possessions and the sudden introduction of a Power of Attorney document that places control with an unknown Third Party.
Gary FitzGerald, Action on Elder Abuse chief executive, said: “Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit them.
“Financial abuse can take many forms - it’s everything from carers or family pilfering money to phone scams and having Power of Attorney misappropriated. Very often, the perpetrator is someone close to the older person, such as a relative or carer.
“So we want to equip older people to protect themselves where appropriate and for those who love them to spot the signs that their older friend or relative may be being abused.
“Talking about things such as internet safety and ‘stranger danger’ is something we do routinely with our children. It’s about time we took the issue of abuse of older people just as seriously.”
The charity is urging anyone who has concerns that they or someone close to them is being financially abused to call its confidential helpline, 08088088141, which offers support and advice.