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June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (Photo) - 06/13/24

Salem – In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is asking people to be on the lookout for the financial exploitation of seniors. The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization launched recognition of the day in 2006 to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older people.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but seniors are often the target, especially those who live alone or are isolated. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, social isolation, loneliness, and elder maltreatment make seniors an easy target for scammers.

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in 10 Americans ages 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million seniors who are abused each year. The Southern California Center for Elder Justice estimates that financial elder abuse losses are between $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion each year.

Scammers use several tactics to gain trust from seniors to steal their finances. Unfortunately, some of these offenders are the guardians who are responsible for acting in the person’s best interest. Guardians are often a person the senior trusts and is granted control of the person’s assets. Financial abuse or exploitation often occurs when the guardian improperly uses the financial resources of a senior.

“We need to look out for each other, especially our senior population. To do that, people need to be informed and on high alert for financial fraud,” said TK Keen, administrator for DFR. “I encourage friends and loved ones to help their older family members spot scams. Technology allows bad actors to be a constant threat, which is all the more reason to be on alert for potential financial fraud impacting our loved ones.”

Senior financial exploitation can be difficult to identify. Here are six examples to watch for:

  • A new and overly protective friend or caregiver, especially if the senior is considering surrendering financial control to the person.
  • Fear of someone or a sudden change in feelings about them.
  • A lack of knowledge about financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters.
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designation.
  • Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets (cash, valuables, securities, etc.).
  • Suspicious signatures on the senior’s checks or other documents.

If you believe someone is being financially abused, call Oregon’s toll-free abuse reporting hotline at 855-503-SAFE (7233). You can also visit the division’s protect yourself from fraud website for resources to prevent, report, and recover from financial abuse.

Oregon’s Senior Safe Act makes securities industry professionals mandatory reporters for suspected elder financial exploitation. Securities professionals, such as broker-dealers and investment advisors, should use DFR’s file a suspected financial abuse report webpage when they suspect potential financial abuse of an Oregon senior.

DFR’s consumer advocates are always there to help with questions or to file a complaint. You can reach them at 1-888-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.financialserviceshelp@dcbs.oregon.gov

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation protects consumers and regulates insurance, depository institutions, trust companies, securities, and consumer financial products and services. The division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest consumer protection and business regulatory agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

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