WASHINGTON—Dedicated training for employees of banks and credit unions significantly strengthens the ability to stop financial exploitation incidents before money leaves consumers’ accounts, according to a first-of-its-kind research report published by AARP and Virginia Tech’s Center for Gerontology.
The research found that effective education for financial institution employees benefits consumers in terms of both the number of potential exploitation incidents reported and the amount of money saved.
Highlights from the analysis include:
- An average of 12 times more money saved per employee for those who were trained through AARP’s BankSafe training ($865) compared to others ($70), regardless of experience with previous trainings.
- More than four times the number of suspected incidents of financial exploitation were reported by those who received BankSafe training versus those who hadn’t.
- 133% improvement in assessment scores that tested knowledge of financial exploitation among those who had gone through the BankSafe training, compared to a 33% increase among those who had not.
“Defending older Americans from financial exploitation is mission critical to AARP, and we know that the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Debra Whitman, executive vice president and chief public policy officer at AARP. “We are excited that so many employees in our nation’s banks and credit unions are learning new ways to stop financial exploitation through AARP’s training.”
The research was conducted as part of a six-month pilot program. More than 1,800 employees from nearly 500 bank and credit union branches in 11 states participated in the research. Participating states included Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.
During the six-month pilot program, bank and credit union employees who completed the BankSafe training stopped nearly $1 million ($900,915) from leaving consumer accounts. That was 16 times higher than what employees who didn’t take the training saved consumers ($54,384). AARP recommends that all consumers talk with their banks and credit unions about the steps they are taking to train their staff to stop the financial exploitation of older adults.
“Education and training of staff are two of the most powerful things banks and credit unions can do to protect older consumers,” said Jilenne Gunther, co-author of the research report and AARP’s national director of BankSafe. “Our research shows that well-trained frontline employees provide a critical safety net for those most at risk of being exploited.”
More than 2,000 financial, legal and law-enforcement professionals advised AARP in the development of the BankSafe training platform. Since launching nationally in May 2019, more than 3 million consumers with approximately $71 billion in assets are being better protected thanks to the BankSafe training.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.