THE MASTERS PROGRAM: YOUR BEST PROTECTION IS AWARENESS

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1 THE MASTERS PROGRAM: YOUR BEST PROTECTION IS AWARENESS

2 People s United Bank Commitment People s United Bank has been committed to supporting the communities it serves for more than 170 years. The Masters Program focuses on helping seniors to age in place with dignity and safety. Through the Masters Program s training sessions, seminars and events, People s United Bank strives to arm older community members with the weapon of awareness, thereby helping them maintain safe and independent lives.

3 The Masters Program People s United Bank offers throughout its footprint the Masters Program, an initiative designed to promote safety and financial awareness for senior citizens. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, senior advocacy agencies and businesses, the Masters Program provides educational programs, seminars, events and training in the communities the bank serves. The Masters Program is designed for senior citizens and community members to help safeguard seniors from financial exploitation and other criminal activity. The program also helps communities better understand and respond to the physical and mental challenges that may affect an older citizen, thereby potentially increasing their vulnerability to crime. Why the Masters Program at People s United Bank? At People s United, we understand the challenges senior citizens face, which is why we feel it is important to assist in their protection. Consider the following statistics illustrating the increasing effects abuse and exploitation have on this segment of the population: 1 out of 8 people in the United States is over the age of 65. Every 2.7 minutes an elderly person is a victim of elder abuse. There is a rapid rise in financial exploitation of American seniors. Families are finding it difficult to take care of their aging parents and address their financial health and safety needs. 1

4 How does the Masters Program help protect our seniors? Awareness is a senior s best protection. We educate our communities about senior fraud and prudent safety practices to help prevent the victimization of older citizens while also ensuring their well-being. To understand the issues seniors face, we work to: stay current on the crimes perpetrated against senior citizens understand how to help prevent these crimes identify challenges the elderly face which make them more susceptible victims determine next steps for victims of crime create programs to help prevent victimization and keep seniors safe. The following initiatives are part of the Masters Program: Triad Senior Sensitivity Training Financial Exploitation Prevention and Intervention Safe Tea Program Yellow Dot Program Purse Patrol Uniform Fashion Show Crime Prevention Seminars Homeland Security Training Triad The Masters Program at People s United Bank is associated with the National Association of Triads, Inc., an organization focused on preventing victimization of the elderly. Triad refers to a collaborative partnership among a town s senior groups, law enforcement officers and private businesses. The Triad partners work together to prevent victimization of the elderly and create programs which allow seniors to age in place with dignity and safety. Triad strives to improve the quality of life for seniors through education, creative problem-solving, prevention and special initiatives. Currently there are more than 60 Triads throughout the People s United footprint, with more in the development stages. 2

5 Senior Sensitivity Training The Senior Sensitivity Training Program heightens awareness by People s United employees and first responders (police, fire and EMS personnel) to the specific needs of seniors. The program helps develop sensitivity to the challenges seniors face due to hearing or vision impairment, Alzheimer s disease, dementia and other ailments that affect aging citizens. Internally, People s United Bank employees are taught how to recognize the signs of financial exploitation of the elderly. These might include, for example, unusual withdrawals or parties accompanying an older person to the bank to withdraw funds. Externally, the Masters Program state coordinator trains first responders by literally placing them in an elderly person s shoes so that they can understand how the elderly can become flustered easily in situations involving their presence. For example, in the training, first responders wear shoes filled with dry beans to emulate how it feels to walk with foot problems. They also wear special gloves that emulate arthritis symptoms, so police officers can understand why it may take an older person longer to produce a license and registration in a motor vehicle stop. The message to first responders is clear: you must take extra time when dealing with seniors. As part of its Masters Program, People s United Bank trains police officers in the special needs of senior citizens. Here, program coordinator Angela DeLeon asks Bridgeport police officer Nicholas Ortiz to wear special gloves to simulate dexterity issues that seniors face. 3

6 Financial Exploitation Prevention and Intervention People s United branch employees who recognize the signs of financial exploitation when an elderly customer is before them can call the bank s internal Fraud Department, which often involves the state Masters Program coordinator. In many instances, immediate intervention is required, for example freezing an account or calling police or state agencies, to protect a senior from significant financial loss. Seniors, unfortunately, are a target of choice for many criminals. An elderly person may not realize that he or she has fallen victim to financial exploitation due to physical/mental ailments or to their dependence on others who handle their finances. Unfortunately, those most likely to exploit our seniors are those individuals whom the elderly person trusts, such as a family member, close friend or caregiver. Tell-tale signs of financial exploitation include: unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts a disparity between assets and life style a sudden inability to pay bills or purchase essentials unusually large payments for services. In some cases, seniors may not be facing financial exploitation, but rather suffering from a reduced capacity to handle their own finances. In these cases, People s United Bank may take action in concert with other professionals and appropriate family members to preserve an older customer s financial health. Safe Tea Program Safe Teas (a play on the word safe-ty ) are serious discussions planned with senior groups, on various crime prevention topics. They are especially useful during holiday periods, as they warn seniors not to fall victim to scams prevalent during those times. While attending a Safe Tea program, seniors discuss issues affecting their age group and enjoy afternoon refreshments at a People s United Bank branch or other convenient location. Safe Teas may, at times, use the services of outside speakers, like police officers or firemen, to drive home an important point. 4

7 Drug Take-Back Program The goal of the Drug Take-Back Program is to remove from the homes of elderly citizens narcotics that may make the seniors targets for thieves. Many seniors have had operations and are prescribed narcotic pain killers. Sometimes these medications go unused or the remainder of the prescription that isn t used is stored in a medicine cabinet. These narcotics can be sold on the street for as much as $125 a pill, so the elderly become targets for theft, and, in some cases, serve, unwittingly, as enablers for family members who have drug addictions. These family members may steal from an elderly relative s medicine cabinet for a free drug fix. Drug Take-Back Days increase senior awareness of these issues so that they may protect themselves, and, perhaps, their family members who have addiction issues. People s United Bank representatives usually organize Drug Take-Back Days at senior housing centers. Seniors bring their old prescriptions to the events which are attended by local police officers who ensure the collected drugs are disposed of properly. People s United Bank works in collaboration with local law enforcement, federal Drug Enforcement Officers (DEA) and pharmacists to educate the elderly and rid their medicine cabinets of prescriptions that could also make them sick. Products of the Depression era, elderly citizens sometimes save medicines and trade them with others for a prescription they need. These medications have often expired, posing a dangerous health risk. Seymour community police officer Sergio Desiderato counts medications with a local resident as part of a Masters Program Drug Take-Back Day. 5

8 Yellow Dot Program Highly acclaimed by the National Highway Safety Transportation Association (NHSTA), the Yellow Dot Program is trademarked by People s United Bank and has been proven to help save the lives of seniors in automobile emergency situations. The program is designed to alert emergency personnel that in the event of a traffic accident, vital information about the car s elderly driver can be found in the glove compartment of the vehicle. At a Yellow Dot event, seniors complete a yellow card, which includes, among other pertinent information, medicines taken, any allergies the senior may have, preferred doctors, relatives who should be contacted in an emergency, etc. After the card is completed and a photo of the senior taken and affixed to the card, a Yellow Dot sticker is secured to the senior driver s windshield, notifying first responders that in the event of an emergency, where a senior is injured and may not be able to speak for himself/herself, a yellow folder with all pertinent information regarding the driver can be located in the glove compartment of the car. Local police departments often assist People s United Bank in hosting Yellow Dot events. A People s United employee affixes a Yellow Dot sticker to the window of an elderly person s car, signifying to first responders that should the driver be incapacitated, the car s glove compartment contains a yellow folder containing all pertinent medical information about the operator. 6

9 Purse Patrol Program Seymour community police officer Joseph DeFelice explains to a grocery shopper the dangers of leaving a purse unattended in a cart. The Purse Patrol Program educates seniors on how to avoid becoming victims of purse snatchings in supermarkets. People s United has many bank branches in supermarkets. Accompanied by local law enforcement personnel, a People s United representative walks the aisles of a supermarket looking for women who have left their purse unattended in a shopping cart. Our bank representative then places a Keep An Eye On Your Purse sticker on the victim s purse, alerting her to the fact that her property was unattended. The accompanying police officer then taps the woman on the shoulder and notifies her that in the time it took to put that sticker on her purse, a thief could have stolen her wallet, and, thus, her identity, using just the information stored in her pocketbook. 7

10 Uniform Fashion Show The Uniform Fashion Show educates seniors about the various uniforms of local workers who might have cause to visit or enter their homes. The models in these fashion shows include, among others, local police officers and firefighters, gas, water and electric company workers and package delivery personnel. The models highlight the unique features of their uniform to help seniors identify the wearer as legitimately belonging to the organization he or she claims to represent. In addition to uniforms, models may show their identification badges and their typical vehicles. Through these fashion shows, seniors are armed with the tools necessary to spot an impersonator, should one ever come knocking on their door. These fashion shows are simply another way to arm seniors with the weapon of awareness. An Orange police officer displays his uniform to a crowd of elderly citizens at a People s United Uniform Fashion Show during which those who wear uniforms (police, fire, delivery and utility personnel) identify the special characteristics of their uniforms so that older homeowners do not open their doors to imposters. 8

11 Crime Prevention Seminars Crime Prevention Seminars are discussion groups, about crime prevention safety tips led by Masters Program state coordinators. Seminars are held at various locations including senior centers, assisted living facilities, senior housing associations, retiree functions and People s United Bank branches. Topics discussed include: home invasion prevention travel safety tips identity theft protecting finances. Like the Safe Tea program, these crime prevention seminars may, at times, use the services of outside speakers. Homeland Security Training on Disaster Situations The Homeland Security Training Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This two-hour course educates participants on preparation for and response to largescale emergencies, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Participants learn where to seek shelter, how to prepare an emergency supply kit, and where to keep financial records and other vital information for quick retrieval in the event of an emergency. For more information regarding the People s United Bank Masters Program, please contact: Angela DeLeon People s United Bank People s United Masters Program 850 Main Street Bridgeport, CT Phone: (203)

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