“District Attorney Summer Stephan announced an outreach campaign designed to increase awareness of financial elder abuse and remind employees of San Diego-area financial institutions of their duties as legally mandated reporters of such crimes.”
Finance professionals who serve senior citizens “are some of our best eyes and ears for spotting and preventing the exploitation of older and dependent adults,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said during a news conference at the San Diego Hall of Justice.
Fox 5 San Diego’s recent article, “County battles financial elder abuse with new campaign,” says that under California law, employees of financial institutions, including all banks and credit unions, are required to report suspected elder and dependent adult financial abuse.
This applies whether they have direct contact with a potential victim or even just witness an incident they suspect may be financial abuse.
“Employees in financial institutions can make a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our community to help protect them from losing their life savings,” Stephan commented.
The new program, launched in conjunction with Financial Elder Abuse Awareness Month, gives finance workers examples of warning signs to watch out for and details on how to report any suspected abuse of the elderly.
The training materials include a video featuring industry representatives from the Credit Union League and Western Bankers Association, as well as Marlene Ruiz, a longtime local bank employee who helped prevent a financial elder-abuse crime.
When Ruiz saw that one of her older clients was the victim of an obvious scam, she intervened. As a result, she was able to prevent the victim from having thousands of dollars stolen from his bank account. In honor of those actions, the District Attorney’s Office named Ruiz one of its “Citizen of Courage” in 2018.
An estimated $36.5 billion is lost every year in the U.S. from elder financial exploitation. Last year, U.S. banks reported nearly 25,000 suspected cases of elder financial abuse to the Treasury Department. That’s more than double the amount of five years earlier.
In fiscal 2017-18, San Diego County Adult Protective Services fielded 4,563 referrals about financial-abuse allegations. Nearly 15% of those reports came from financial institutions, according to Stephan’s office.
Reference: Fox 5 San Diego (June 18, 2019) “County battles financial elder abuse with new campaign”