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Cossec focuses on financial education for Puerto Rico’s elderly

Among the initiatives the Puerto Rico Cooperatives Supervision & Insurance Corp. (Cossec, in Spanish) is working on are training sessions aimed at educating the elderly on avoiding financial exploitation, Mabel Jiménez-Miranda, the public corporation’s executive president, recently announced. 

Last August, during a Family Department congress themed “Financial Exploitation Affects Us All,” which focused on the elderly, Cossec expanded its educational efforts to raise awareness about the signs, or red flags, of financial abuse and support for the elderly to avoid exploitation.

Cossec advises the elderly to not share personal information, hang up on suspicious calls and contact their credit union directly, and monitor their account transactions closely to prevent financial scams. 

Jiménez-Miranda emphasized the importance of preventing scams and assured that credit unions have protocols to assist the community, particularly the elderly, in criminal situations. 

Cossec advises cooperatives to review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, especially regarding the notification requirements when elder financial abuse is suspected.

“We want to urge the population to be vigilant, especially our elderly, who are generally more vulnerable,” Jiménez-Miranda said. “It is necessary to monitor their transactions and contact their credit union directly to clarify any doubts or information related to their accounts.”

She also highlighted the close communication members have with their credit unions, which facilitates receiving assistance.

Puerto Rico has a regulation since June 2010 that established a protocol for preventing and detecting financial exploitation of older adults or people with disabilities. The regulation requires institutions to establish processes for preventing and detecting possible cases of financial exploitation.

In 2022, the regulation was amended to include additional provisions on what the prevention and detection protocols of cooperatives should contain.

“Cases of financial exploitation and fraud involving older people are all too common and can lead to them becoming victims of criminal acts” that can lead to significant financial loss, Jiménez-Miranda said. “These cases are outrageous and heartbreaking, and we have solid laws and regulations that can prevent suspected abuse before an individual can access another person’s money. Likewise, we encourage banks and credit unions to stop transactions and report this type of suspected abuse to authorities.”

Elder abuse, including the illegal or improper use of an elderly adult’s funds, property or assets, can be perpetrated by family members, caregivers, financial advisers, home repair contractors, and scammers.

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