Sadly, according to a former professional in the salon industry who returned to school at 65 and became an attorney, elder abuse financial exploitation is becoming quite common, and very serious. “It never dawned on me that this might be a crime,” Helen Karr, today the elder abuse special assistant in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, said in comments published in The San Francisco Chronicle (The Chronicle 3/29/13). “It wasn’t until I became an attorney that financial abuse was included as a crime of elder abuse. It is just plain stealing.”
That stealing, more often than not, originates from within a senior’s own family.
Karr reveals that in her former career as a supervisor at beauty salons in department stores, she would overhear scores of conversations between hairdressers and their elderly clients lamenting the loss of funds to acquaintances, caregivers and even family members - loans that were never repaid.
Now 78, Karr has spearheaded various initiatives in an attempt to better protect the elderly from those who might otherwise take advantage of them. One of her initiatives was to spearhead an elderly financial abuse law in California that requires banks and financial institutions to report suspicion of elder financial abuse.
Part of the financial exploitation elderly problem is that medical science is allowing people to live longer than they used to. And while an individual may have more prolonged physical longevity than a previous generation, their mental capacity may not keep pace.
Hence, the upswing in financial elderly abuse.
It’s not just family or so-called friends either, Karr said in The Chronicle. Financial planners and vendors of financial products can smell an easy sale and commission through the issuance of a product not at all appropriate for a trusting senior of advanced age.
“An annuity can be a good investment,” Karr told The Chronicle. “But if you’re already in your 70s and an insurance salesman tries to sell you one, and the fine print is that you can’t take out your money for 20 years without a very steep penalty, that’s an inappropriate product for that person.”
It should be noted that some 50 million Americans age 62 and older presently comprise one-fifth of the population. It’s a huge number that’s only about to grow.
READ MORE FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE LEGAL NEWS
Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III, who heads up the Office for the Financial Protection of Older Americans for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had this to say during Congressional testimony in 2012 in comments published in The Chronicle:
“Older Americans are victimized by a broad range of perpetrators, including scam artists, family members, caregivers, financial advisers, home repair contractors, and fiduciaries such as agents under power of attorney and court-appointed guardians.”
While California is taking a proactive approach in battling the problem, more needs to be done to eradicate elder abuse financial exploitation once and for all…
Benjamin Andrew Marine
"WHO DIDN'T I TELL?"