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Consumer alert: NYS Division of Consumer Protection offers guidance to raise awareness about elder abuse - and ways to prevent it


Thu, Jun 16th 2022 07:30 pm

Elder Abuse Awareness Day was June 15; June is World Elder Abuse Month

Earlier this week, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) offered guidance to prevent and help protect senior family members and friends from elder abuse.

It stated, “Abuse can happen anywhere, including in an older person’s home, a family member’s home, a nursing home or an assisted living community. Elder abuse occurs when an adult over the age of 60 is abused, neglected or financially exploited by someone they trust such as a family member, a stranger, health care provider, caregiver or friend. Specifically, it includes physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse, in addition to financial exploitation, abandonment and neglect.”

“Older adults are a vital part of our families and communities, and keeping them safe as they age is imperative,” Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. “The Division of Consumer Protection wants to help you protect your older adult family members and/or friends from potential abuse, irreparable harm and maltreatment from predators who may try to target them with consumer fraud scams.”

New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Director Greg Olsen said, “Approximately 260,000 older adults are victims of elder abuse each year in New York state. For every reported case, 23 cases go unreported, making it vital for the public to recognize signs of abuse and act.”

The statistics come from a statewide Elder Abuse Prevalence Study by Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University, and the New York City Department for the Aging.

“Across the state, our local departments of social services’ adult protective units continue to work tirelessly to investigate, address and mitigate allegations of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation,” said New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “We know that our most senior New Yorkers are more at risk of becoming victimized due to the aging process, increased medical needs and social isolation, certainly worsened by the consequences of COVID-19. It is more important today than ever for all community members to understand the risks facing our elderly population, and to recognize and report possible signs of abuse.”

NYS DCP stated, “Financial fraud and exploitation are one of the most prevalent types of elder abuse. Recent estimates show that the annual loss of victims of financial abuse is assessed to be at least $36.5 billion. Financial abuse occurs when the improper and unauthorized use of an older adult’s money, benefits, belongings, property or assets are illegally used without their permission.”

June 15 was Elder Abuse Awareness Day. DCP urged readers to make a plan to help protect senior family members and friends from financial abuse. The @CFPB provides a guide to four important steps:

√ Prevent – Educate yourself, your loved ones and your community.

√ Recognize – Spot the warning signs and take action.

√ Record – Document what you observe.

√ Report – Tell the appropriate authorities so they can investigate and help.

June is also World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, which is intended to highlight the ongoing criminal tactics targeting one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

NYS DCP offers these tips to people who have received a call they believe to be a scam:

√ RESIST the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.

√ VERIFY the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.

√ DO NOT send cash, gift cards or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!

√ DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or over the phone or log into bank accounts as directed by the caller (screen mirroring).

For more information about how to recognize a few of the six most common senior scams, or for more scam prevention tips, download DCP’s senior anti-fraud education (S.A.F.E.) brochure.

NYS DCP added, “If you have parents or elderly family members, take the time to explain these scams to them. There are also resources to help if you are concerned about an individual, friend or loved one who may be experiencing elder abuse, including the non-emergency helpline at 844-746-6905 and at 1-844-697-3505 to report abuse.”

The NYS DCP serves to educate, assist and empower the state’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the DCP helpline at 800-697-1220, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or visit the DCP website at https://dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection. The DCP can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer

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