As a vast sector of the US population reaches old age and the systems in place to supervise its care remain inadequate, instances of elder abuse will continue to rise. This includes not only the physical and emotional abuse of the elderly in nursing homes and care facility, but also financial exploitation and abuse at the hands of family, friends, caregivers, and financial advisors.
Elder abuse is everywhere, though; not just on the news. One of the reasons for the growing problem is that the largest and wealthiest generation in American history — the Baby Boomers — have retired and are aging. Meanwhile, their children and grandchildren may be struggling. This is a recipe for disaster and exploitation that regulators and legislators have been working diligently to solve before it gets any worse.
In an upcoming program directed at the general public, the SEC Philly office, in conjunction with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, and Temple University’s Institute on Protective Services, will share the latest on the products, strategies, and scams that most affect elderly investors.
Four United States Senators have sent a letter to the CEO of securities industry regulator FINRA asking the agency to bar stock brokers from client wills. Lead by Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the Senators have sought to curb elder financial abuse by financial advisors who illegitimately appear in client wills. The move by the legislators came as a result of a Maryland broker receiving $500,000 from a client who was suffering from dementia and had been living in a nursing home.
Signed into law a year ago, the Senior Safe Act specifically addresses how financial professionals can do a better job in reporting suspected senior financial abuse and exploitation to the authorities. The fact sheet was circulated on the first anniversary of the passage of the Senior Safe Act in order to further promote awareness or resources and training among financial professionals, institutions, senior investors, and their families.
A recent report by the Pennsylvania Office of the State Inspector General has delivered sharp criticism of how agencies at the county level handle thousands of complaints about elder abuse and how the state supervises investigations into these complaints. It is the state’s duty to ensure that such investigations are reasonable and thorough.
As baby boomers hit retirements, bringing with them the largest amount of wealth a single generation has ever possessed, regulators at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) foresee an ever growing number of financial scams designed to separate boomers from their hard-earned savings.
Philadelphia is getting serious about its elder financial abuse problem. As we noted in a recent blog post, the Philadelphia Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would be hosting public awareness talks and meetings to combat the growing problem of elder financial abuse. That announcement was followed by the District Attorney for Philadelphia Larry Krasner's statement that he would be creating a special task unit targeting perpetrators of financial fraud against senior citizens.
Even as reports continue to confirm that abuse and neglect in local nursing homes is a major issue facing our elderly, the Trump administration has elected to scale back fines against nursing homes that harm or jeopardize the well-being of residents.
According to a revealing new report by NJSpotlight.com, which organized data provided by investigators who annually inspect 364 New Jersey nursing homes accepting Medicare and Medicaid, “the average New Jersey nursing home has about six deficiencies, ranging from food preparation to fire exits without proper signage and lighting to physical abuse.”
According a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, lawmakers insist that enough nursing homes receiving government subsidies or support remain understaffed, thus increasing profit at the expense of care, to justify subpoenas, investigations, and litigation. The nursing home industry vehemently disagrees, and they have found their own lawyers to drive their point home.
The law prohibits the use of senior-specialization designations by any person who lacks certification from an accrediting organization. This law makes clear that using a phony senior-specific designation that falsely implies some financial expertise in the investment needs of our elderly investors is against the law.