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Helping customers avoid financial abuse

01 October 2021

International Day of Older Persons is commemorated on 1 October each year. As Australia’s leading reverse mortgage provider, with products designed for people aged 60 and over, Heartland places significant importance on our duty of care for our customers.

According to a recent report from Seniors Rights Victoria, elder abuse hits much closer to home than people may think. In Australia, 91% of elder abuse cases were by family members, with a combined total of 67% of abusers being the person’s son or daughter.

Sharon Yardley, Heartland’s Head of Operation, Risk and Compliance at Heartland explained that everyone should feel safe and free of harm and coercion when making financial decisions.

“Taking out a Reverse Mortgage is a financial decision that should be carefully considered,” explained Yardley. “Because of this, we require all customers to obtain independent legal advice, and encourage them to seek financial advice – we also carefully look out for any signs of potential financial abuse or other forms of abuse.”

“Our people are trained to identify any potential signs of vulnerability along with situations where there is not a clear benefit for our customer. As part of our application process, we also ask if the application is being made under any undue pressure or influence.”

Yardley explained that Heartland has significant safeguards and processes in place to ensure customers are protected throughout the decision-making process, and for the duration of their loan.

“The Heartland Reverse Mortgage team receives numerous enquiries from children of potential customers. The vast majority are trying to help their parents live a more comfortable retirement. Our processes ensure our customers make an informed decision and that they benefit from the loan.”

If there are concerns about whether the customer may be experiencing any type of financial abuse, Heartland may delay or not offer the loan, request permission to speak with other family members, or in some instances, contact the police to arrange a welfare visit or in regard to fraud. A full list of steps Heartland may take, if there is a possible red flag, can be found in our elder abuse guide.

Heartland’s Reverse Mortgage also protects customers by offering:

  • a lifetime occupancy promise – ensuring customers can continue to own and live in their home for as long as they choose
  • a no negative equity guarantee – meaning the amount required to repay the loan will never exceed the net sale proceeds of the property
  • flexible loan repayments – customers are not required to make any loan repayments until the end of the loan, but you are free to do so at any time with no penalty (discharge fee applies).
  • an equity protection option – allowing customers to choose to protect up to 50% of the eventual net sale proceeds of the home
  • a 30-day cooling off period – allowing customers 30 days to change their mind (in which case, the customer can repay their loan in full, and Heartland will refund the settlement fee, interest and the standard cost of a valuation).

Find out more about our borrower protections.

Heartland’s protections and commitment to Reverse Mortgage customers have been recognised through many awards over the years including most recently, an Excellence Award for Non-Bank of the Year at the Australian Mortgage Awards, a 5 Star Lender Award from Your Mortgage, and Infochoice’s Best Reverse Mortgage Award in 2020.

Heartland is also 100% committed to the Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) which aligns with our core values, one of those values being to ‘do the right thing’. All of the Heartland team are BFO signatories and are proud to uphold this trust through treating customers in a fair and ethical manner.

Heartland has helped more than 22,000 Australians to live a more comfortable retirement with our Reverse Mortgage. To find out more about Heartland’s Reverse Mortgage request your free application pack.

Information provided is accurate as of 1 October 2021 and may change from time to time. Subject to complying with the terms and conditions of the Heartland Reverse Mortgage, you will not owe more than the net sale proceeds of your home and you can keep your home for as long as you choose.