The president of the New York Bankers Association on Monday pledged industry cooperation with federal and state authorities to protect elderly customers from being ripped off by friends or family members who co-own their accounts.

"Banks have in place systems to detect fraud in many of their accounts, but the hardest problem to deal with is a close relative, friend, or acquaintance taking advantage of a relationship with an elderly customer to withdraw sometimes an entire life's earnings from an account," Michael P. Smith testified at a House Banking oversight subcommittee hearing in New York.

Mr. Smith said bankers would be willing to participate in testing so- called "convenience accounts," which let elderly customers share authority to sign checks but not ownership of their accounts. Law enforcement officials say these accounts make it easier to prosecute offenders and prevent relatives or friends from draining accounts after elderly customers die.

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