Montecito Bank & Trust was nationally recognized by the American Bankers Association Foundation for its program to prevent Senior Abuse and Financial Exploitation (SAFE) with a 2016 Community Commitment Award.

The award was given to the bank for its efforts in the Protecting Older Americans category and will be presented during ABA’s Annual Convention in Nashville on Oct. 16.

From internal training programs and red flag-triggered “fraud defense” handouts for customers, to their community outreach through presentations, in-branch workshops, local radio interviews, and social media-relayed tips and alerts, Montecito Bank & Trust’s multi-pronged Elder Abuse initiative helps provide a dose of knowledge, safety and comfort to their communities and clients.

The selection committee chose six banks based on the creativity and thoughtfulness of programs — traditional or innovative in nature and structure — that embody the ideals of corporate social responsibility and demonstrate success in measurable terms.

Entries were divided into six categories: affordable housing, community and economic development, financial education, nontraditional borrower and underbanked, protecting older Americans and volunteerism. Award winners were chosen by a field of nationally-recognized experts.

“The SAFE program demonstrates Montecito Bank & Trust’s strong and passionate commitment to bettering the lives of its customers and local community,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “Their work embodies the mission of the Community Commitment Awards and they are a truly well-deserved recipient.”

Janet Garufis, Montecito Bank & Trust president and CEO, said, “I am very proud of the work our MB&T associates do every day to identify and find solutions to the important issues affecting our communities. I am honored that the ABA chose to spotlight this critical program on a national level.

“Fraud and financial abuse continue to rise, and as a financial institution we have a responsibility to ensure that we educate as many people as possible about this important topic.

“I am incredibly proud to thank, congratulate and recognize our now national award winning fraud defense team and all of our employees who are so dedicated to helping educate and protect our customers and our partners in the community,” she said. 

Laurel Sykes, Montecito Bank & Trust SVP/chief risk officer said, “We are thrilled to be honored by the ABA for our SAFE banking program for preventing financial elder abuse.

“Our program grew out of what was first and foremost an internal training initiative created to address an increasing trend in financial crimes against seniors, but we soon realized there was a greater need for public outreach about this concerning topic.

“Knowing that millions of Americans are affected by elder abuse each year, and only a small percentage of those people report incidents, it is our hope that fellow bankers will join us and other community partners to help spread the word about fraud and elder abuse.”

Megan Orloff for Montecito Bank & Trust