The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is offering guidance to prevent and help protect your senior family members and friends from elder abuse. Abuse can happen anywhere including in an older person’s home, a family member’s home, a nursing home or an assisted living community. Elder abuse occurs when an adult over the age of 60 is abused, neglected or financially exploited by someone they trust such as a family member, a stranger, health care provider, caregiver, or friend. Specifically, it includes physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse in addition to financial exploitation, abandonment and neglect.
“Older adults are a vital part of our families and communities and keeping them safe as they age is imperative,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “The Division of Consumer Protection wants to help you protect your older adult family members and/or friends from potential abuse, irreparable harm and maltreatment from predators who may try to target them with consumer fraud scams.”
“Approximately 260,000 older adults are victims of elder abuse each year in New York State,” said New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Director Greg Olsen. “For every reported case, 23 cases go unreported, making it vital for the public to recognize signs of abuse and act.” The statistics come from a statewide Elder Abuse Prevalence Study by Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University, and the New York City Department for the Aging.
“Across the state, our local departments of social services’ adult protective units continue to work tirelessly to investigate, address and mitigate allegations of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation,” said New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “We know that our most senior New Yorkers are more at risk of becoming victimized due to the aging process, increased medical needs and social isolation, certainly worsened by the consequences of COVID-19. It is more important today than ever for all community members to understand the risks facing our elderly population and to recognize and report possible signs of abuse.”
Financial fraud and exploitation is one of the most prevalent types of elder abuse. Recent estimates show that the annual loss of victims of financial abuse is assessed to be at least $36.5 billion dollars. Financial abuse occurs when the improper and unauthorized use of an older adult’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets are illegally used without their permission.
June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day. So today, DCP urges you to make a plan to help protect your senior family members and friends from financial abuse. The @CFPB provides a guide to four important steps:
- Prevent – Educate yourself, your loved ones, and your community.
- Recognize – Spot the warning signs and take action.
- Record – Document what you observe.
- Report – Tell the appropriate authorities so they can investigate and help.
June is also World Elder Abuse Awareness Month which is intended to highlight the ongoing criminal tactics targeting one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Here are a few tips if you receive a call you believe to be a scam:
- RESIST the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
- VERIFY the caller’s identity – Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.
- DO NOT send cash, gift cards or money transfers.Once the scammer gets the money – it’s gone!
- DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or over the phone OR log into bank accounts as directed by the caller (Screen Mirroring).
For more information about how you can recognize a few of the six most common senior scams or for more scam prevention tips, download DCP’s informative Senior Anti-Fraud Education (S.A.F.E.) brochure. If you have parents or elderly family members, take the time to explain these scams to them. There are also resources to help if you are concerned about an individual, friend or loved one who may be experiencing elder abuse, including the non-emergency helpline at (844) 746-6905 and the Adult Protective Services hotline at 1-844-697-3505 to report abuse.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM or visit the DCP website. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook.