Making customers less vulnerable

We probably all know of a time when an older person gave their bank card to a neighbour or family member with the request to run to the ATM and get a little cash. Fortunately, this normally goes well. But what about when it doesn't? When a son with a gambling addiction takes his mother's money and runs?

Financial scams at every turn

Most people prefer to handle their banking themselves. Rabobank always advises its customers to do so. For most of us, things like getting cash from the ATM, making an online payment or taking an insurance policy online are things we don't even think about. But for some people, these things are not at all simple. For seniors, people with mobility issues or people who have trouble with reading and writing, understanding and performing these 'simple' banking transactions present real difficulties. And that makes these people the most vulnerable to financial scams.

That feeling that something's not right

As Segment Manager for Retail & Private Banking at Rabobank, part of Jolanda Janssen's job is coming up with ways for the bank to keep its customers safe. She says that a lot of it depends on the staff at the bank counter. 'It's true that a lot of our payment transfers happen online these days, but we still receive customers in the branches every day. Sometimes our employees can get the feeling that something's not right. Like when an older man is standing there with his new and much younger girlfriend asking to withdraw a lot of money. Our people have to be alert to things like this, and ask the right questions to determine whether what the customer is asking for is what he really wants.'

‘That requires the right knowledge,' says Janssen. 'That's why this subject gets covered in the mandatory training that our personnel take every year. Every employee who has personal contact with customers has to be alert to the warning signs of financial exploitation and to the customers who are most vulnerable to it. Unfortunately, the customers we see at the counter are only a very small subset of our total customer portfolio. So we don't get to look everyone in the eye, not by any means. We ask friends and family of customers to come talk to us whenever they suspect that a customer they know is at risk of getting scammed.'

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Tools for staying independent

Another way to make customers less vulnerable is to give them the means to do their banking independently. As long as they can do that, they won't have to ask the wrong people for help. 'That's why our services include a number of products that can help them,’ says Janssen. 'For people who have trouble seeing, there's the Random Reader Comfort, a large-size Random Reader for people who otherwise wouldn't be able to use Internet banking. The keys and the screen are big enough to allow them to input and read the authentication codes easily. It's true that at the moment we're replacing the ordinary Random Reader with the more secure Rabo Scanner, but we'll be continuing to support the Random Reader Comfort. For customers who need it, we send their bank statements in Braille.'

For people with rheumatic conditions, there's the Rabo CardPuller. Janssen: 'This is a tool that makes removing your bank card from the ATM a lot easier. So customers who have problems with this can keep getting their own cash. And customers who have mobility problems can use Rabobank Money Express and have their money delivered at home without having to send anyone else out for it.'

Authorising friends & family

In many people's lives, there comes a time when they can no longer really handle their money matters themselves. 'The best thing to do,' says Janssen, 'is to officially authorise someone they trust to handle their banking for them before that moment comes. That is possible with a power of attorney or a living will. What we want to impress upon our customers is that they truly have to trust the person before turning over their bank account to them.'