Articles Tagged with elder financial abuse

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sponsored Senate Bill 81, the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2017. Both senators have spoken out about the need to protect seniors from fraud and scams. From Internet fraud to charity scams and Ponzi schemes, elderly citizens are often targeted. The intention of the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to coordinate with other agencies to best monitor for fraud schemes and to distribute information to seniors and their families about how to recognize and report scams.

Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Passes Senate

Without any objection or amendment, the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act passed the Senate on August 2. It was then referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The companion House Resolution 444, sponsored by Rep. Deutch (D-FL), remains with the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. It is now up to the House of Representatives to review the bill and determine whether it moves forward and whether it moves toward becoming law as is or with adjustments,

fabian-blank-78637-copy-300x200The California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) had disturbing news. The CDBO released a report in May on California’s Deferred Deposit Transaction Law, which showed senior citizens, those older than 62, took out more deferred deposit loans than any other age group. In fact, 23.4% of those over 62 relied on these “cash advance” or “payday” loans in 2016. These are short-term loans during which an individual borrows a small amount of cash, which they then have to pay back with a very high interest rate. There are usually lending fees involved too.

This is just one example of how elderly individuals are often put in financially precarious situations and can easily be taken advantage of by lenders and individuals.

Payday Loans Have Extremely High Interest

zi8-e3qj_rm-cristian-newman-300x199In early February, a man from Newport Coast, California was charged with financial elder abuse, 19 counts of fraud, first-degree residential burglary to commit larceny, and theft from an elder after emptying the bank account of a 95-year-old woman who has dementia and resides in a nursing home. The man was working as an assistant to the trustee of the elderly woman’s bank accounts when he is said to have stolen the woman’s checkbooks. He then allegedly forged her checks between March 2015 and September 2016. The trustee discovered the issue in October when a check was returned for insufficient funds and contacted the authorities. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated and arrested the man after it was determined that he stole more than $500,000 from the elderly woman. The man allegedly used the money to pay for his personal expenses, including credit cards and European vacations.

Financial Elder Abuse is a Growing Problem

While this story is shocking, it is unfortunately not uncommon. The elderly are often taken advantage of financially, sometimes by small amounts and other times in such significant ways that it leaves them in considerable debt or bankrupt. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, 1 in 20 older adults reports some type of financial mistreatment in the recent past. However, this figure is likely far too low for the amount of financial abuse that actually goes on. Studies have shown that it is possible that only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse is actually reported. This means millions of elderly across the country may be victims of theft and fraud and either unaware, unable to come forward, or too ashamed to speak up.