Via Money Magazine:
When a bank calls with alert about fraudulent activity, most people assume that it’s their own account that’s been compromised. But several banks now have alert systems to let people watch for problems in an elderly parent or grandparent’s account. That’s because more banks are on the front lines of protecting older Americans from financial fraud—even as millions are falling victim every year. One academic study published in July in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that more than 5% of the elderly experience some sort of fraud or scam every year. “AARP estimates that victims of elder financial fraud lose an average of more than $120,000 when fraud occurs.
With that in mind, MONEY set out to determine which banks offered the most protections—and the best overall rates—for older Americans. Many financial institutions are in fact offering a range of elder protections—everything from alerts and withdrawal limits to software that closely monitors accounts for red flags. We analyzed offerings from those banks with the largest national footprint: more than a dozen in all, with either more than 1,000 branches or locations in least a dozen states. To survey how banks are protecting seniors, MONEY generated a 15-item checklist using guidelines recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and AARP. We also surveyed each institution’s checking options (including those for older Americans), prioritizing those with no (or easily waived) monthly fees and ATM charges.
Among the elder protections: We checked to see whether banks offered account alerts, monitoring software, and the ability to create alerts for a trusted family member or friend about suspected exploitation. Another item recommended by both groups: read-only access for financial caregivers, to allow a second pair of eyes to monitor an account.
Other items were related to training for bank staff—including both tellers and local branch managers, among others. “The best way to fight exploitation is to prevent money from ever leaving the account,” Gunther says. “The most effective way to do that is to train tellers, call center staff and other frontline staff.”
And the Winner Is: TD Bank
Why It Wins: TD Bank scored highest for options offered to help protect older Americans from frauds and scams. Unlike many of its peers, the bank offers the ability for a customer to give read-only access to a trusted family member or friend who has been granted power of attorney, allowing that person to keep an eye on the account. It also lets customers say in advance that the bank may share information with a trusted contact when it suspects fraudulent activity. TD Bank has other consumer-friendly policies that help make it a standout. It offers accounts with easy ways to waive monthly fees, and an above-average customer service score from J.D. Power. Older customers may appreciate the free checks that come with TD Bank’s 60 Plus checking account (see below).