Financial exploitation increasing during pandemic

Seniors rights groups are calling for a national register of powers of attorney to prevent fraudulent transactions (Bigstock)

Advocates for older Australians are warning of a hidden toll of abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of family members taking advantage of elderly relatives. Source: The Age.

Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blakey said people hit with job losses and reduced work hours were moving into their elderly relatives’ homes and promising to care for them, but instead racking up bills in the older person’s name or pressuring them to guarantee loans.

New South Wales Seniors Rights Service chief executive Russell Westacott said money problems linked to the pandemic were leaving older Australians vulnerable to being taken advantage of by family members, with financial exploitation the most common form of elder abuse.

While such arrangements were often “nicely parcelled up as ‘helping us out’”, Mr Westacott said, they were often based on verbal agreements to repay the money that “may not eventuate.”

Seniors rights groups, along with the Australian Banking Association, are calling for a national register of powers of attorney to prevent fraudulent transactions and ensure that decisions are made in the older person’s best interest.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter, who announced last year that he would lead the push for a national register at the Council of Attorneys-General, said he was still working with his state and territory counterparts towards implementing the scheme, recommended by Australian Law Reform Commission in 2017.

Mr Westacott said the cases he was seeing during the pandemic made the national register “more urgent”.

FULL STORY

They promised to look after their elderly relatives. Instead they took their money (By Dana McCauley, The Age

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