But financial exploitation routinely is overlooked and unreported, prosecutors say, because unlike child abuse there are no formal government-run systems for complaints and intervention. There is a sense that this is a family matter, and we shouldnt intrude, said Edwin L. Walker, a deputy assistant in the federal Administration on Aging, of the low national priority such misdeeds often receive. But were talking about a crime. Under the 2010 Elder Justice Act, the federal government is working to boost awareness of financial abuse and other crimes against older individuals, and to encourage more people to report and take legal action against the misuse of older peoples money. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has introduced legislation aimed at improving the reporting of fraud and teaching seniors to recognize the signs of exploitation. Ms. Collins, who heads the Senate Special Committee on Aging, called financial fraud against older Americans a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually. In recent years, the Justice Department has trained prosecutors to handle cases of abuse of older people and offered online training to law enforcement officials nationwide. Since most older people still visit banks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has compiled a list of tips for bank tellers on how to identify and thwart suspicious financial transactions. Still, it can be an uphill climb to get legislators to declare such financial exploitation a serious crime. Washington state lawmakers had been trying since 2015 to strengthen legal protections, but their efforts had failed.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.post-gazette.com/aging-edge/aging-edge-reports/2017/04/17/Declaring-War-on-Financial-Abuse-of-Older-People/stories/201704170101
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