In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Secretary of State Connie Lawson urged citizens to value and protect Indiana’s seniors by reporting possible abuse.
“Although elder abuse comes in many forms – physical, financial, emotional, neglect or abandonment – often several types of abuse will be inflicted at the same time,” said Secretary Lawson. “Financial abuse is considered to be the most common form of abuse to elders, costing its victims an estimated $2.6 billion a year.”
To help combat this problem, the Secretary of State’s office is joining the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) who are partnering to offer tools to identify and report financial abuse or exploitation. Investment fraud is an area of particular concern, as victims can see their life savings depleted with little opportunity to recover financial stability.
“Financial losses through investment fraud scams are often devastating to victims in more than one way,” said Securities Commissioner Alex Glass. “I have witnessed victims endure tremendous suffering financially but also emotionally. Emotional strain resulting from securities fraud can lead some victims to become fearful, develop health issues, become depressed, and in the most extreme cases contemplate suicide. It is imperative that financial abuse be reported promptly to the proper authorities.”
Securities fraud can come in many forms. The investment might be fraudulent, or it could be a legitimate product that is unsuitable for the investor’s circumstances. Other investment problems include unregistered products, theft of funds or products sold by an unlicensed adviser or broker. Investors and caregivers are urged to “investigate before investing” by calling the Secretary of State’s office at 317-232-6682 to verify if the product and person selling it are registered/licensed and to see if any complaints have been filed.
The Secretary of State’s office is constantly identifying new ways to protect the most vulnerable among us. On July 1, 2016, legislation aimed at bolstering financial protections for seniors will go into effect.
“My office recently worked with the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing financial professionals to share financial records with law enforcement and withhold a disbursement of funds if they believe a senior is being exploited financially,” stated Secretary Lawson. “Too often it is family members of victims who are the culprits in these heart-breaking cases. This legislation allows third party financial advisors to intervene when they suspect wrongdoing on the part of family members or others.”
The public can report suspected securities or investment fraud to the Secretary of State’s office at 317-232-6682. Other types of elder abuse should be reported to the Family and Social Services Administration’s Adult Protective Services at 1-800-992-6978 or to local authorities. You may also report abuse through the national Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.
NASAA, of which the Secretary of State’s office is a member, is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. Its membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the provinces and territories of Canada, and Mexico. www.nasaa.org