State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, and the North Carolina Banking Commission today honored the state and nation’s bank tellers for their role in preventing Elder Financial Exploitation (EFE) and fraud. Treasurer Folwell, Chairman of the State Banking Commission, was joined by Peter Gwaltney, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Bankers Association, and Amber Hardy with First Carolina Bank.
The recognition came during the commission’s first meeting since Teller Appreciation Week, which was the first week in October and has been celebrated since 1996. Tellers are often the focal point for most of the public’s interaction with the banking industry. They ensure people have access to their funds, manage accounts, cash checks, handle deposits and withdrawals, take loan payments, answer account-related questions, and record transactions. They are also often the first to recognize EFE and other attempts at financial fraud.
“Advocating for the invisible is what these bank tellers do,” Treasurer Folwell said. “And they have to do it with their brains and their heart and the intuition that God put into them to see when something doesn’t look right or smell right. It’s hard for them to get the credit for what they prevent. It is my pleasure today to be able to take a moment and honor the great work tellers do here in North Carolina and across the nation.”
During the commission’s meeting, the presenters focused on elder fraud and exploitation noting that aggregate losses related to elder financial exploitation vary in scale, estimated to be between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion per year. According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2022 the average loss to older individuals from fraud and exploitation was $35,101, an increase of 84% over 2021.
“I want to thank you for recognizing the important role tellers and universal bankers play in the life of their banks and in the lives of their customers,” said Gwaltney. “For many bank customers, these individuals are their banker. They are the face of the bank and the eyes and ears of the management team. They are also often the first to recognize fraud, especially elder fraud. Tellers have the ability to slow things down on a suspicious transaction and dig a little deeper. It is often during these times that elder fraud is stopped.”
Hardy is a dedicated universal banker at First Carolina Bank, where she has developed a deep understanding of financial services and customer relations.
“I’m here today to share with you my deep passion for banking. I enjoy the connection I build with my customers and their trust in me with their financial matters and decisions,” said Hardy. “As we strive to provide exceptional service, we must also bring attention to an important issue – fraud prevention. As an individual who operates on the front line, I play a unique role in educating our customers, especially our elder customers, about scams. Fraudsters often view the elderly as easy targets, and try to get hold of their savings. I have a strong personal commitment to address this issue. And this has made me recognize the importance of fostering awareness and maintaining open lines of communication with our elderly customers.”
The State Banking Commission supervises, directs and reviews the activities of the Office of the Commissioner of Banks under the North Carolina Banking Laws. The State Banking Commission, which consists of the State Treasurer and 14 appointed members, meets routinely to review any matters before the Office of the Commissioner of Banks.