After witnessing a marked increase in financial crimes against their aging customers Peoples Bank staff took action. On Thursday the bank sponsored a Senior Protection Seminar, which was well attended and held in the basement community room at Berea City Hall.
Bank representative Melinda Carter said, "After seeing such a sharp increase in Elder Financial Exploitation in our community over the past couple of years, I felt like we needed to do more."
Carter says action taken after an incident is not enough, "We report to APS (Adult Protective Services) and Law Enforcement on all cases but prevention is key and that is what we are trying to accomplish."
The event featured a panel of local leaders who are familiar with the issue. The Panel was made up of, Mayor Bruce Fraley, Melinda Carter of Peoples Bank, Kenny Fields from Berea Wal-Mart, Jennie Haymond, Madison County Attorney, Detective Todd Allen of the Madison County Sheriff's Office, and Scott E. Collins an Elder Abuse Attorney. Carter said Allen Livingood, who is pastor at Westside Baptist Church, was also instrumental in the seminar; as was Captain Danny Brewer with the Berea Police Department.
Fraley stated, “We had a great crowd of approximately 70 people who came to city hall for this seminar. The information provided by the panelists not only gives our senior citizens good practical advice on how to protect themselves from financial exploitation, but also helps raise awareness of this growing problem in our community and our county. Those who came to the seminar were very engaged, asked great questions, and enjoyed the presentation.” He continued, “We where honored to have two of our State Representatives, Deanna Frazier and Travis Brenda, in attendance, as well as city officials and representatives who can help when our seniors are threatened with possible financial abuse.”
The goal was to have people who attended the seminar come away with a better sense of how to protect themselves from exploitation.
"Communication is so important, we have to start talking about the problem." Carter said.
Fraley agreed, “We have to keep talking about this growing problem, we have to report incidents of financial abuse and we cannot be silent; this is how we can stop the problem.”
He also mentioned Carter’s efforts, “I want to compliment Melinda Carter, who organized the seminar. She did a great job with planning, publicity and providing training material.”
“My biggest take away from the seminar is for our senior citizens to know that if they have been the victim of financial abuse, they are not alone and there are many organizations and individuals who will help them.” Fraley concluded.