Posts Tagged ‘elder abuse’

In Highlighting Elder Abuse Awareness Day, State Officials Urge Mainers to Report Suspected Cases of Financial Exploitation

PRESS RELEASE
June 13, 2017
Contact:  Judith Shaw
Administrator Maine Office of Securities
1-877-624-8551
TTY:  Maine Relay 711

June 15th Observance Draws Attention to under-reported ‘Crime of the 21st Century’, and the Need for People to Report Concerns about Abuse of Seniors

AUGUSTA Officials at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) are focusing attention on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day–recognized each June 15th throughout the United States and in other countries, and often referred to as the ‘crime of the 21st century,’ because of its increasing prevalence and devastating impacts.

“The abuse of seniors is among the most under-reported crimes, and its impact can have devastating consequences for its victims,” DPFR Commissioner Anne Head said.  “Unfortunately, the perpetrator is often a relative or caregiver, making it more difficult for the senior to come forward.  Each of us has a responsibility to report concerns about potential abuse.”

Commissioner Head noted that financial abuse is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its U.S. victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year.

The Commissioner highlighted the Department’s five agencies, all of which are dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse.  She pointed out the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529 or at www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Publications”.  She also highlighted the many resources available through the Bureau of Financial Institution’s online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions).

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who serves on the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the frequency of investment fraud and the importance of reporting suspected cases.  “Of special concern, is investment fraud of seniors,” Administrator Shaw said.  “Victims can lose their entire life-savings, with little opportunity to recover financial stability.”  For investment-related questions or concerns, the Office of Securities within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation can be reached at 1-877-624-8551 and at www.investors.maine.gov.

Signs that an older adult may be vulnerable to possible abuse or exploitation may include:

  • Social isolation and/or recent loss of a spouse or partner
  • Recent decline in health or in the ability for self-care
  • Lack of familiarity with financial accounts
  • Dependence on another to provide everyday care or essential services
  • Willingness to listen to telemarketing calls or respond to solicitations from unverified charities or businesses

Red flags of possible victimization include:

  • Senior has injuries that are not adequately explained
  • Change in appearance or poor hygiene
  • Senior is missing checks, account statements or documentation regarding finances
  • Running out of money at the end of the month
  • Senior appears fearful or depressed
  • Senior is accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective or dominating

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

Adult Protective Services:

www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging/aps/

Hotline: 1-800-624-8404

Legal Services for the Elderly:

www.mainelse.org

1-800-750-5353 

Maine Area Agencies on Aging:

List of regional agencies with full contact information:

www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm

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 or 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 Licensing: 207-624-8603

(Questions or Concerns Related to Licensed Professionals)

www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing

Don’t buy a car if you can’t touch it first – Bangor Daily News

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted Feb. 08, 2016, at 7:50 a.m.

Northeast CONTACT wishes to give a major thank you to all the financial professionals who keep consumers safe. Our thanks go especially to one bank official in the Ellsworth area.

The official was concerned when a customer wanted to make a sizeable withdrawal with plans to wire money for an antique car. What aroused the official’s suspicion was the money’s destination: London, England.

Scammers typically operate from bases overseas, and money that’s wired away never comes back. The official had heard of such schemes and gently urged the customer not to buy a vehicle sight unseen and definitely not to wire money to an unknown party. That advice probably prevented a $14,500 payment for a car that almost certainly doesn’t exist.

The customer had seen an ad in a local newspaper. Detective Dorothy Small of the Ellsworth Police Department said identical ads appeared in Rolling Thunder Express and Penobscot Bay Press.

The latter online publication is now running a scam alert on its classified page, noting that the ad that ran in its Jan. 14 and 21 papers “was submitted under false pretenses and is a scam.” The publisher went on to apologize “for falling victim” — even though the ad appeared to meet policy guidelines — and urged readers not to respond.

The look-alike ads are no coincidence. Scammers find appealing phrases (“1970 Chevrolet Chevelle 454, manual four-speed, red with black stripes”) and cut and paste in publications everywhere.

One online vintage car dealer has tips to avoid being scammed, including a nearly identical ad to those that appeared in Maine, athttp://nwcam.com/Helpful_Tips_About_Internet_Scams.html. Search a key phrase from the ad and find all kinds of “late husbands” and their treasured cars for sale, over several years.

The gist of all such ads is the same: you’ll be getting the deal of a lifetime. In fact, you’ll get nothing.

Small noticed that photos of the car “for sale” had been taken on different road surfaces, a tipoff that the pictures had been lifted from various Internet sources. Payment was to be made via Pay Safe, which is headquartered in Nevada … so instructions to wire funds to England were another red flag.

“If you can’t put your hand on the vehicle that you’re going to buy, then don’t buy it,” Small said.

senior-safe

Click image to access brochure

That probably echoed the urging of our bank teller, who was likely one of more than 300 front-line bank and credit union employees who have undergone training in what’s called Senior$afe.

The program is a partnership of Maine’s financial community and state government, all allied through the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention. Training enables key employees to spot potential cases of fraud and, in many cases, stop them cold.

Partner agencies help with training and promoting what Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw called a “no wrong door” approach to referrals in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee last year.

A spokesman for Shaw’s department told me it’s hoped Senior$afe will grow and further expand protections against financial fraud. You can find a brochure on the program at the Maine Bankers Association website, www.mainebankers.com/seniorafe/.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

Elder Financial Abuse – WABI-TV

Monday, February 17th, 2014 at 8:38 am.

Russ and Joy talk about elder financial abuse.  VIDEO

Senior$afe will be training bank and credit union employees to spot signs of elder financial abuse when elderly people are making transactions.

If you suspect a senior is being abused, financially or otherwise you can call Maine Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404.

 

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Scams targeting elderly on the rise

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast CONTACT
Posted June 15, 2013, at 12:18 p.m

The call to a woman in eastern Maine last Thursday sounded legitimate. The caller claimed to be with the Eastern Area Agency on Aging (EAAA) and inquired about the woman’s arthritis.

As the conversation went on, the caller claimed to have access to a “tool” that could help relieve the woman’s pain. All the woman had to do, the caller said, was to provide her Medicare number. When the woman refused (smartly), the caller hung up.

The people from EAAA are understandably upset. There’s no way they would call out of the blue and ask for someone’s personal and financial information. They’re doubly angry, because the scammers are preying on seniors.

However, the targets are not just older Mainers. Troy Morton is Chief Deputy of the Penobscot Sheriff’s Department and chairman of the local TRIAD, an alliance of police and senior citizens groups aimed at protecting our older citizens.

“It’s really flooded the area again,” Morton said of the scam calling.

He said on Friday the calls are going to seniors and non-seniors alike, and the scammers are tailoring their sales pitch depending on who answers their call.

He said scammers will use key terms to gain a person’s trust. They might cite “Part B” coverage when referring to Medicare; using such terms tends to make people think the caller is familiar with the subject, and so is trustworthy.

The moment of truth comes when the caller delivers the pitch: “Give me your Medicare number, and I’ll get the paperwork going,” or words to that effect. The insistence for immediate action — divulging personal or financial information, revealing credit card or bank account numbers — is a tipoff that this is a scam attempt.

“If somebody’s trying to sell you a service, they’ll sell it tomorrow too,” Troy Morton said. People should always be suspicious of “cold calls” and doubly so when the caller turns on the pressure to act right away.

Everyone who advocates on behalf of seniors (and consumers generally) urges them to take a breath and say to themselves, “What’s the worst that could happen if I wait?”

Then, as with any purchase, do your research. Call the business or agency where the offer supposedly originated and see if it’s genuine. Check with family, friends or other trusted people and learn from their experiences; if they’ve been burned, leave it alone.

The scam arthritis call came just a day after Gov. LePage signed a proclamation noting that June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Governor called attention to what has been termed “the crime of the 21st century” because it’s so pervasive and potentially disastrous for victims.

The Maine Council on Elder Abuse has just launched a website at http://elderabuseprevention.info/ with information about preventing all types of abuse of seniors.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

 

Department of Professional and Financial Regulation Encourages Seniors and Caregivers to Utilize State Resources to Protect Against Elder Abuse and to Report Suspected Cases

‘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

Hotline: 1-800-624-8404

*****

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

1-800-750-5353

 

Elder financial and investment abuse — Bangor Daily News

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast Contact
Posted Nov. 13, 2011, at 4:44 p.m.

Some readers may have taken part in a nationwide call-in last Thursday. The event was a concerted effort to highlight the growing problem of financial abuse of older people.

The problem is huge, probably on the order of billions of dollars. It’s estimated that one in five senior citizens in the United States has been victimized financially in what is becoming known as the leading financial crime of the 21st century.

Many Americans remember the tears that punctuated testimony by actor Mickey Rooney before a Senate committee. The well-known former child star reported that he had been a victim of financial abuse for years. Rooney was one victim who has spoken publicly about the problem — millions of others do not, so the true extent of the problem isn’t known.

To help stem the growth of elder abuse, several groups teamed up on Thursday’s call-in: Investor Protection Trust, the National Adult Protective Services Association, the Financial Planning Association and Baylor College of Medicine. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance was also a partner in the hot line effort.

Northeast CONTACT had just two days’ notice of the event — ordinarily, we would have made readers aware of such an undertaking ahead of time so they could take part. Our focus now is to suggest areas where people with problems may get answers to their questions.

One source of help is the Maine Office of Securities, which investigates and prosecutes violations of securities laws. It also licenses broker-dealers, investment advisers and investment adviser representatives as well as reviews registration statements and exemption filings for securities issuers seeking to sell in Maine.

The office’s home page notes that Maine has joined more than two dozen other states in an effort called the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program. From the Office of Securities home page, readers can make a link to EIFFE ( http://www.investorprotection.org//learn/?fa=eiffe) to learn about education and enforcement efforts across the country.

One of the partners in the call-in, the Financial Planning Association, encourages consumers to do thorough research before sharing financial or other personal information with someone claiming to be a financial planner. Ryanne Enyeart, assistant director of consumer services for FPA, told me about a recent survey showing 59 percent of financial planners are aware of a client or acquaintance who had been victimized by poor or dishonest advice from a less-than-reputable counselor.

FPA members must adhere to a code of ethics, stressing professionalism, fairness, confidentiality, integrity and competence in advising their clients. Enyeart suggests interviewing at least three planners, preferably in person. Ask about their experience, qualifications and education; what licenses they hold; how they charge for services and what disciplinary actions — if any — have been taken against them.

Of FPA’s mission, Enyeart says, “We really are trying to provide an extra layer of protection for consumers, particularly the elderly.” The association offers help through its website at www.fpanet.org or by phone, 800-322-4237 ext. 7151.

Back in Maine, the Office of Securities home page offers visitors a look at a couple of “what every investor needs to know” publications. One deals with self-directed IRAs (the subject of an Oct. 28 alert from the office — see www.investors.maine.gov) and the other looks at the burgeoning gold market. Help is also available over the phone, toll-free. The Office of Securities number is 877-624-8551.

If you know an adult who is incapacitated and dependent who you suspect is being abused, you may call Adult Protective Services at 800-624-8404 to make a confidential report.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

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