‘Crime of the 21st Century’ under-reported, causing untold pain & suffering and costing an estimated $2.9 billion nationally each year
GARDINER – Calling elder abuse one of the most under-reported and fasting growing crimes of the 21st century, Commissioner Anne L. Head and other officials with Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) joined Governor Paul R. LePage in highlighting the June 15th observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by urging seniors and caregivers to utilize state agency resources to protect themselves, and encouraging them to report cases of suspected abuse.
Officials are also highlighting an effort by the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, which is encouraging businesses and nonprofits to post “No Excuse for Elder Abuse: World Elder Abuse Day, June 15th” on their signage.
“Financial abuse, which includes investment fraud and exploitation, is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year,” Commissioner Head said. “Because these crimes are often committed by caregivers, family members or trusted financial advisers, they go unreported in too many cases.”
Maine’s Office of Securities, an agency within DPFR, emphasizes that investment scams targeting seniors are increasingly prevalent and particularly troubling. Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the importance of reporting suspected cases. “Maine’s Office of Securities is committed to fighting elder financial exploitation, but our efforts are much more successful when people come forward to report their concerns.”
Administrator Shaw noted that the Office recently concluded a case in which a former New Hampshire stockbroker took nearly $200,000 from a senior couple in Aroostook County as part of an investment scheme. The perpetrator was sentenced to time in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the victims. “This case illustrates that strong action can be taken when problems are brought to light,” Shaw said. “Unfortunately, too few people speak up or they come forward after their life-savings has been depleted.”
Commissioner Head and Administrator Shaw encourage seniors and those who care for them to contact the Department for answers to questions or to obtain resources. The Office of Securities offers educational materials and personal assistance to consumers regarding safe investing and investment professionals by calling 1-877-624-8551. Information is also available at http://www.investors.maine.gov.
Additionally, the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection can be obtained from the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. The 32-page publication is free of charge to Maine residents by calling 1-800-332-8529 (1-800-DEBT-LAW). It can also be found at http://www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Publications”. The Department’s Bureau of Financial Institution offers a comprehensive online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions) with many resources of interest to seniors.
A partial list of State agencies and organizations in Maine providing information, services and education on elder abuse, including financial exploitation, accompanies this release
Partial List of State Agencies and Organizations in Maine providing information, services and education on elder abuse, including financial exploitation:
Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads
1-800-262-2232 or 207-287-9200
Maine Adult Protective Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/aps
Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation:
(Five Agencies Offering a Wide Range of Assistance to Seniors and Caregivers) www.maine.gov/pfr
Office of Securities: 1-877-624-8551
(Investment Questions of Concerns) www.investors.maine.gov
Bureau of Financial Institutions: 1-800-965-5235
(Banking Questions or Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions
Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection: 1-800-332-8529
(Credit, Foreclosure, General Financial Scam Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit
Bureau of Insurance: 1-800-300-5000
(Insurance-related Questions or Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance
Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation: 624-8603
(Questions or Concerns Related to Licensed Professionals) www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing
Maine Area Agencies on Aging:
List of regional agencies with full contact information: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm
Legal Services for the Elderly: www.mainelse.org