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Hochul signs legislation protecting seniors from fraudulent use of personal information


Mon, Dec 6th 2021 03:10 pm

Legislation incorporates identity theft into definition of elder abuse for purposes of support services and programs for elder persons

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday signed legislation (S.1560/A.1994) into law to protect seniors from fraudulent use of personal information by authorizing support services on identity theft through nonprofit agencies and law enforcement. The legislation allows the Office of the Aging and law enforcement to recognize identity theft as one of the many forms of elder abuse, and take appropriate action to help seniors.

"The fact that older New Yorkers are often the target of identity theft is unconscionable," Hochul said. "We need to continue boosting protections for our aging population, and this legislation is a simple, common-sense way to keep them safe from harmful tactics of elder abuse. Older New Yorkers have been there for us and, as the nation's first age-friendly state, I'm proud that New York continues to lead the way to be there for them."

The new law adds a definition of "elder abuse and exploitation" to the elder law and incorporates identity theft in the list of eligible support services through the naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC) programs. The law also amends section 214-c of the executive law to provide that identity theft shall be one of the many forms of elder abuse that the Office of the Aging and law enforcement address in their educational materials for police officers' use when encountering such abuse.

Hochul’s team said, “The unlawful use of an individual's personal identification information such as social security number, driver's license information, or bank and credit card account can result in terrible consequences lasting years. In its worst form, it can leave the older victim bankrupt and without assets in their retirement.

“While older adults are not the exclusive targets of identity theft, they can be especially susceptible to victimization as they often need to share their personal information with caregivers, medical providers' offices, government agencies, and over the internet. The impact of identity theft can be devastating for older adult victims who are unable to restore stolen funds through employment. This law, the aging support services groups, and law enforcement teams will be able to use available resources to help seniors, the fastest growing sector of our population, from identity theft in its many forms.”

New York State Sen. Rachel May said, "Every year, older New Yorkers fall victim to identity theft as scammers get more inventive and aggressive. This simple change to our laws will open up state resources for people fighting this terrible crime. I thank Gov. Hochul for signing this bill today to ensure seniors have more protection against abuse."

Assembly member Catalina Cruz said, "With over 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day in the United States, and with over 2 million New Yorkers currently at and above that age, the State Legislature has acted to provide the maximum protections against identity theft by including this crime into the laws that protect our senior citizens. According to 2019 data from the Federal Trade Commission, New York state ranks 12th in the nation in cases of identity theft with over 186 complaints per 100,000 New Yorkers. That means that, in 2019 alone, over 36,000 of our fellow residents had their identity stolen, many of them being our elderly. I am proud to have worked on this issue along with my Senate colleague, Rachel May, and thank Gov. Hochul for signing my legislation into law."

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