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DISB Urges Residents to Report Elder Abuse

Monday, June 14, 2010
“Crime of the 21st Century” costs victims $2.6 billion per year.

Washington, DC — In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2010, the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) urges residents to value and protect the District of Columbia’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 DISB Commissioner Gennet Purcell. 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 fight this problem, DISB is joining the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NASPA) 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 can be devastating,” said Commissioner Purcell. “Those who lose their life savings suffer a physical and emotional toll as well as a financial toll. They may become fearful, develop health issues, become depressed and even consider suicide. It’s 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 DISB at (202) 727-8000 to verify if the product and person selling it are registered or licensed; and if there have been any complaints. “Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century as the growing senior population is increasingly targeted,” said Commissioner Purcell. “Studies show that family members and caregivers are the culprits in more than half of these cases. Anyone can—and should—report abuse of an elderly person, whether it is physical, emotional or financial.” Securities or investment fraud should be reported to DISB at (202) 727-8000. Other types of elder abuse should be reported to the District of Columbia Department of Human Services, Family Services Administration, Adult Protective Services, at (202) 541-3950 or to local authorities. You may also report abuse through the national Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116.