NEW LAWS AND TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP PREVENT FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION OF SENIORS

Life Care Planning Lawyers - CT

While there is currently no national tracking of instances of financial exploitation of elders, a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Justice found that about 60 percent of the study’s adults over the age of 60 had been targeted by scams.  Additionally, many seniors find themselves victimized by family and caregivers, who not only may help themselves to the elder’s cash but may impoverish the elder to the point that he or she can no longer afford proper medical care or other necessities. 

With Americans living longer, and often far away from relatives, it is important to enlist help from anyone who may be in a position to detect and report such abuses.  Connecticut recently passed a new law which, among other ways of improving the overall safety and well-being of elders, requires the Commission on Aging to study the best ways “to help financial institutions and financial agents detect potential fraud, exploitation and financial abuse” and requires financial agents working with the elderly to complete a mandatory training session in detecting elderly exploitation.  See Public Act No. 15-236, effective October 1, 2015.

Reports of suspected alder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation may be made to the Connecticut Commissioner of Social Services.  Additionally, the elderly victim has a right to sue and collect actual damages, punitive damages, costs of the lawsuit and reasonable attorneys’ fees. 

Nationally, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has proposed new rules that would require financial institutions to add a “trusted person” to elderly clients’ accounts and to permit financial advisors to place temporary holds on their clients’ funds when they reasonably suspect that financial abuse is occurring.  This proposed rule is a response to the roughly 1,900 calls that it has received on its Securities Helpline for Seniors TM since the helpline was opened in April 2015.  That toll-free number is 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577).

Technology companies are also working to provide products and services to combat the financial exploitation of seniors.  For example, EverSafe offers 24/7 account monitoring for elders, detecting abnormal financial expenditures and confirming regular deposit activity on a daily basis, and providing alerts to members and chosen contact persons when irregularities are detected.  Plans start at $7.99 per month for basic services, up to $22.99 per month to include credit monitoring from two credit bureaus.  Suspicious activity includes things like increasing charitable donations from $50 per month to $50 per week or per day; unusual cash withdrawals from ATMs; applying for a new debit or credit card; or a sudden absence of normal monthly deposits (such as pension checks).

Concerned family members should also review bank statements and follow up on seemingly innocuous charges, such as a small charge for a magazine subscription.  Often, telephone scammers will offer the elder an introductory “deal” with long-term, more expensive commitments down the road.  Be aware that once a senior is drawn into one such scam, their contact information is frequently posted on telemarketing call lists for similar questionable offers and outright scams.

If you suspect that a loved one is being exploited or abused, please call our office at (860) 769-6938.  Our Life Care Planning team is here to ensure the best quality of life possible for elders in Connecticut.

 

Life Care Planning Lawyers - CT

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