Bank of the West: Financial Literacy Helps Customers Protect Assets

Bank of the West

In 2007, Bank of the West created a consumer awareness program to help elderly customers become more aware about the crime of elder financial abuse. Working with Elder Financial Protection Network, Bank of the West designed a program that would fill attendees with as much information as possible in a two-hour seminar. We engaged local community resources to serve on panels and answer questions from the audience. We provided lunch and entertainment – and free document shredding. Elder Financial Protection Network and Bank of the West also made sure attendees left with information they could use and share with their friends.

We piloted the Be Aware seminar in three California communities – Fairfield, San Jose and Fresno – and were amazed by the public response. All three seminars exceeded our expectations for attendance – some standing room only. Attendees included bank customers, community seniors and county and city officials.

This year we encouraged our entire branch network – more than 685 banking locations in 19 states – to conduct Be Aware seminars in their communities. We made available on our Intranet a self-serve Be Aware Guide and Toolkit to help them along.

In 2008, Be Aware seminars were conducted in Salt Lake City, UT, Des Moines, IA, Danville, CA and Oklahoma City, OK. In November, Jenefer Duane will be the keynote speaker at a Be Aware seminar in Casa Grande, AZ.

The Be Aware program for the elderly got the attention of our internal business partners who repurposed it into a fraud prevention program aimed at our small business banking customer segment. The first small business fraud seminar was held in Albuquerque in May and this month another takes place in Las Vegas.

Be Aware seminars reflect Bank of the West’s belief that we have a responsibility to our customers to help them become better consumers. It is public relations currency that we willingly contribute, especially to the elderly whose faces often reflect those of our parents and grandparents.

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