American Senior Citizens are our fastest growing demographic. They are also the group of Americans who hold the vast majority of the wealth in our country. Many of them are also very vulnerable.
One in ten Senior Citizens in the country experiences elder abuse every year.
Huffington Post reported that financial abuse robbed almost $3 billion from elder Americans just last year. Who are these elder Americans? They are old soldiers who gave years of their lives to protect our country. They are the humble and brave mothers who cared for their families while their husbands were at war. They are our parents’ teachers. They are the carpenters who built our grandparents’ homes. They are our spiritual leaders… retired fire fighters… businessmen… nurses… police officers… librarians. They are the thrifty people who remember the great depression. They are the people who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. They are the ones who wept at his assassination. They are the same ones who wept at John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the wondering eyes who watched in awe as men walked on the moon. They are my grandmother who never answered the door without heels on. They are gentlemen like my grandfather who never walked outside without wearing a tie and hat. They are our national treasures. However, they are also the people who are most likely to be intimidated by someone in their family and lose their hard-earned financial legacies; 78% of elder financial exploitation cases are perpetuated by senior citizens’ relatives.
One of the first people who recognize this abuse is often a bank teller who sees money patterns changing and funds disappearing from an elder’s account. They are the call center representative who fields a call from a sobbing grandmother who does not know where her money went, and she does not even remember calling in and speaking with someone on the phone because she is in the early stages of dementia. What can these tellers and service representatives do? There are a few states with robust state programs that require financial institutions to contact local social services (See Maryland State’s Project SAFE: http://www.aging.maryland.gov/programs.html); those few amazing state laws give financial institutions safe harbor from Federal privacy laws with regard to reporting elder financial exploitation. However, most states do not have this. In fact, most financial institutions in this country have their hands tied with regard to Elder Financial Exploitation. They cannot do much because of federal privacy laws. There are a couple avenues built into the Bank Secrecy Act, but none is robust enough really to protect our senior citizens. Not when their physical safety, their financial legacies, are on the line.
All it takes is a few wires, a password, some intimidation, and someone can rob a vulnerable senior citizen of everything they have… leaving them with no money for their mortgage, their groceries, their electricity, anything. The results can be devastating.
We the people demand a Federal law be enacted that gives safe harbor to financial institutions who report elder financial exploitation and any kind of elder abuse directly to local law enforcement and local social services. We the people demand a Federal law be enacted demanding that elder abuse of any kind be reported to local law enforcement and social services within one week of a financial institution suspecting abuse. We the people demand that our government protect these national treasures… our Senior Citizens. Please sign this White House Petition: http://wh.gov/vl3v