ALONE welcomes the introduction of banking supports for older people restricted by cocooning measures

 ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has welcomed measures taken by the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) to assist older people who are cocooning with banking. The five main retail banks have introduced free phone numbers to offer assistance and advice to older customers required to stay at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BPFI have also published an information booklet which offers practical advice for older people on carrying out everyday banking transactions and keeping their finances safe whilst they are cocooning. It includes a guide to phone and online banking, making payments over the phone and advice on how to keep money safe. ALONE will work with BPFI to ensure that older people using banking services are supported to continue to do so while cocooning.

ALONE has highlighted the need for older people to remain indoors in line with cocooning measures; however it recognises the difficulties this creates for older people in accessing money and banking. ALONE have highlighted that restricted access to money and banking may leave a cohort of older people more at risk of financial abuse, and has called on older people to remain vigilant and to take protective measures to ensure their finances remain secure.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated, “This is an extraordinarily difficult time for older people with regard to their finances and ensuring they remain secure, and we welcome this booklet from BPFI to support those who are cocooning to carry out their banking safely in what is currently a restrictive environment. We welcome the steps taken by the BPFI to provide solutions to support older people to protect their finances, and we recognise that these options are limited by the current restrictions with regard to cocooning. These additional supports are necessary and will support anyone who has independently managed their finances up until now to continue to do so.”

Moynihan continued, “Cocooning measures are resulting in difficulties with accessing money and banking, but unfortunately for some older people who are entrusting a family member or close contact with their finances may leave them at risk of financial abuse.  We are encouraging older people to stay vigilant and if they have any concerns to raise them with their bank or with ourselves at ALONE through our COVID-19 helpline, which is open from 8am-8pm seven days a week on 0818 222 024. We are glad to work with BPFI to ensure that older people who are experiencing difficulties with finance at the moment have the support they need.”

ALONE has recommended that where possible older people use phone and internet banking, make payments over the phone, to ask for support from their bank and organisations like ALONE when needed, and only use the option to nominate someone to help with their banking if they have no alternative.

ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice or support to call their support line, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The support line, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE, and Local Authorities, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously. The support line is designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.

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