Protecting the Elderly From Financial Abuse

You, or someone you know, could become the victim of a growing crime in America — financial abuse of older Americans.  Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse.  As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation’s wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.

What Is Elder Financial Abuse?

It’s a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Anyone who sees signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property should be on the alert. Those are signs of possible exploitation.  Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud.   Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what’s safe.

Despite these threats, taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.

Tips for Seniors:

What should you do to protect yourself?

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed.  Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
  • Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
  • Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
  • Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
  • Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
  • Never rush into a financial decision.  Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
  • Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
  • Feel free to say “no.” After all, it’s your money.
  • You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.
  • Trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers often are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What should you do if you are a victim of financial abuse?

  • Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.
  • Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.
  • Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.

Tips for Family and Friends:

What are the warning signs of financial abuse?

The key to spotting financial abuse is a change in a person’s established financial patterns. Watch out for these “red flags”:

  • Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
  • ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
  • Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services the customer does not fully understand or need.
  • Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the customer cannot explain.
  • New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
  • Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
  • Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.
  • Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of an older customer.
  • Refusal to make eye contact, shame or reluctance to talk about the problem.
  • Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
  • Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home.
  • New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
  • A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
  • Altered wills and trusts.
  • Loss of property.

What should you do if you suspect financial abuse?

  • Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here. Try to determine what specifically is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without their permission.
  • Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
  • Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
  • Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.


Darlene Merckle To Retire After Fifty Year Banking Career

When Darlene Merckle came to work for the Bremen Bank, she was a student at Fairfield Union High School who landed a part time job at the bank. On June 15, she will celebrate her well-earned retirement after a fifty year career with the bank.

Darlene Merckle 2

The kindness and professionalism of Darlene Merckle will be missed after her retirement from the bank this week.

Darlene’s name isn’t one that most customers know. However, scores of loan customers over the years have benefited from her expertise, hard work and dedicated approach to her job. That’s because she is an Indirect Loan Processor. That means she’s part of a select team of employees who are responsible for processing the loans that customers receive after applying at the dealership where they buy their automobile, RV, boat, motorcycle or other type of vehicle. While the loan documents can be signed at the dealership, there remains much work on the back end to insure that the loan is processed properly and the dealership paid.

But Darlene hasn’t always worked behind the scenes making dreams come true for customers.

She actually started at the bank at a time when employees had to be trained to do a lot of different jobs. “Back then, you did everything. Teller work, bookkeeping, you name it. We had to be able to do it all,” she said.

In those days, bookkeeping was a manual affair where posted checks were checked against hand written ledgers. She recalls the bank using lots of large machines such as a proof machine which was used to process checks at banks prior to the advent of computers.

Since then, she has moved around some within the bank and has seen more changes in the banking industry than she can count.

At the Bremen Bank on Main Street in Bremen, she recalls several remodeling projects, town floods, the addition of new branches and the many shifting responsibilities of staff. She even recalls a time when a stray cat had a litter of kittens in the crawl space underneath the bank. “Lots of good memories,” she said with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.

While Darlene started as a teller, she also worked in new accounts for a period before finding her niche in loan processing. At that time, a customer’s loan documents were kept all together in large paper files. As the bank grew, it became necessary to begin breaking out files by loan type and to change the filing system. Later, computers made it easy to scan and file documents, altogether eliminating the need for paper records.

She also recalls the many regulation changes that impact how a customer applies for a loan and the kind of information needed from the customer. “There was a time when there were no disclosures given, no application. There was just a note you signed promising to pay it back,” she said. “And I remember when we first started having customers fill out an application. It was a hard thing for some of our customers because they had never had to apply.”

Today, buyers can apply for a VCNB loan from the dealership. It’s a quick process that provides the customer with a convenient way to borrow money from VCNB when and where they need it and without making a trip to the bank.

Once the borrower is approved and they sign the documents at the dealership, Indirect Loan Processors like Darlene take over. They build the loan into the bank’s system and pay the dealership from their office in Lancaster.  “I like doing the behind the scenes work and I’ve always been fascinated by numbers,” she said. “It’s been a good fit.”

With just a few days left on the job, Darlene says she is looking forward to retirement. “It’s time to retire. Sometimes you just know. There’s not a reason I want to go now but I don’t want to wait too long either. I don’t want to wait until it isn’t fun anymore,” she explained. “Fifty years is enough time.”

The Fairfield County native looks forward to spending time with family including her two grown children and her five grandchildren as well as Mark, her husband of 45 years. “I’ll miss the people. Yes, I will miss my coworkers. A lot of them are like family,” she said wistfully.

And Darlene’s coworkers will miss her too.

Vice President of Indirect Lending Trisha Kyer is visibly saddened when speaking of Darlene’s upcoming retirement. The two have worked together for 25 years, forming a bond that extends beyond work. “She’s a good person and once you’re friends with her, she’s there for you for life,” Trisha said. “I think she knows everyone in the bank and they all lover her. I know this is best for Darlene but we’ll miss her.”

The bank will celebrate Darlene’s fifty year career with a reception at our West Fair branch in Lancaster on Friday, June 15 from noon to 3 p.m. The public is invited to stop by for cake and to wish Darlene well as she starts a new chapter in her life’s book.

“Who would’ve thought that little seventeen year old girl would still be here all these years later?” Darlene asked. “It’s hard to believe!”

Products We Love: Mobile Deposit

February is traditionally a month for celebrating love. Here at the bank, we are loving one of our newest products ‑ Mobile Deposit.

Son And Father Using Mobile Phone To Deposit Check

Mobile Deposit uses your smart phone’s camera to take pictures of your check and submit the images electronically to make a deposit into your checking or savings account. If you have a smart phone with an Android or iPhone operating system and  a camera, all you need is our TouchBanking app!

That means you can deposit your checks from anywhere that you have cell service.

We know that life is busy and sometimes it can be hard to find time for a trip to the bank. So while we love having customers fill our lobbies, we also love providing you with a service that simplifies your life.

Signing up for TouchBanking is free and is super quick and easy. Click HERE to read step‑by‑step instructions.

Once you are signed in to TouchBanking, here’s what you do to deposit a check:

‑ Click Deposits on your screen.

‑ Click New Deposit.

‑ Select the deposit account.

‑ Enter the amount of the check.

‑ Endorse the check “For Mobile Deposit only” and your signature.

‑ Capture a picture of the front and back of the endorsed check.

‑ Confirm all details and click Yes to deposit.

Please note, there is a .50 cent fee for each deposit and transactions are limited to $2,500 per business day. Also, normal data rates may apply.

We hope you will give Mobile Deposit a try the next chance you get. Want more information? Visit our website!



Count the ways you can use Popmoney®

Have you used Popmoney ® personal payment service at VCNB yet? Do you know what it is?

Popmoney is a way that you can send money to someone electronically. All you need is that person’s email address or mobile phone number. If you are a Bill Pay customer at VCNB, you have access to Popmoney for just .50 cents per transaction.


Owe your roomate for rent this month? No need to write a check or hit the ATM – just use Popmoney® personal payment service.

There are countless ways you can use this service. Here are just a few!

  1. Gifts – Have you ever forgotten someone’s birthday? Maybe you have a nephew graduating college? Send a monetary gift with an e-card through Popmoney at VCNB!
  2. Basketball with friends – One of our employees went to a game with friends but for the group’s tickets to be together, one person had to put it on their card. All the friends just sent the funds through Popmoney. And if you’re the person who shells out the cash for tickets, you can send a reminder to your friends for the amount they owe!
  3. Dinner out with family – Some restaurants won’t split checks for large groups. Make it easy on yourself and let one person put down their plastic while you just use Popmoney to send your share to them.
  4. Kids at college – Kids who are away at college are notoriously short on funds. Help out your child or grandkid by sending them a little extra money!
  5. Monday Night Football – The gang is all together for Monday Night Football. That means pizza and wings and drinks for everyone! If someone forgot to hit the ATM on the way, they can just send funds through Popmoney.
  6. Flowers for the Boss – It’s your boss’ birthday and you know she loves roses. Invite your co-workers to pitch in a few bucks and ask them to send it via Popmoney!
  7. Rent money –Set up a Popmoney transaction to send your share of the rent to your roommate on the same day and for the same amount each month.
  8. Gas money on a trip – Taking a road trip with an old friend? Splitting the cost of gas is easy with Popmoney. You can schedule the funds on your smart phone while you travel down the highway.
  9. Neighborly help – Your kids are sick and you’re out of everything at home.  You’re low on cash and can’t get to the bank. If your neighbor offers to pick up some milk, bread and soup for you, just use Popmoney to reimburse them.
  10. When you just don’t have cash – Let’s face it – sometimes you just don’t have cash. Popmoney is a great way to payback someone or send funds when you’re low on cash.

There are lots of ways to use Popmoney. Learn more by visiting our website.