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Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

June 15, 2018 12:00 AM

Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

Since 2006, advocates for senior citizens have marked June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to promote a better understanding of the abuse and neglect of older persons. Public events and discussions raise awareness of elder abuse, a crime that is vastly underreported. 

Elder financial abuse is one form of elder abuse, and it is one of the top three cases reported to Pennsylvania Adult Protective Services, estimated to cost senior citizens in America more than $36 billion each year.1

Since 2007, my colleagues have been collaborating in a distinctive partnership with AARP Pennsylvania, the AARP Foundation, and the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) on the Pennsylvania Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing®, a program designed to protect older investors and potential investors from financial fraud through research-based investor education and protection programs;

IPTInfographic2.jpgThe Campaign is a volunteer-based activity where highly trained senior citizens help other senior citizens learn how to recognize, avoid, and report (800-490-8505; 24/7) financial fraud, scams, and abuse. Over the course of the Campaign’s 10 years, AARP volunteers have made presentations more than 1,100 times to nearly 50,000 Pennsylvania senior citizens, who can now identify the “red flags” of fraud and abuse. 

This work is also made possible through grants from the Investor Protection Trust, which is a non-profit organization devoted to investor education and protection. The grant has just been renewed for the fourth time with an infusion of $120,000 from IPT.

At an event held in the state capitol earlier this week, I was joined by representatives of AARP Pennsylvania and was honored to read a proclamation from Governor Tom Wolf [PDF] celebrating a decade of the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing®. 

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We also recognized volunteers from the AARP Consumer Issues Task Force for their work with the Campaign:

  • Mary Bach (chair) from Murrysville (Westmoreland County)

  • David Aitken from Beaver (Beaver County)

  • Eileen Mazza from Eighty-four (Washington County)

  • Bruce Myers from Seven Valleys (York County)

  • Frances G. Scalise from State College (Centre County)

  • Deirdre Spelman from Scranton (Lackawanna County)

  • Richard Sterner from Mechanicsburg (Cumberland County)

  • Anthony M. Wolchasty from Southampton (Bucks County)

  • Mary Wozniak from Bethlehem (Northampton County)

  • NOTE: Allan and Paige Michael from Orangeville (Columbia County) and Theresa Thomas-Trainer from Philadelphia were unable to attend the ceremony.

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The Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing® has proven successful in helping many Pennsylvanians. However, our work is not done assisting seniors protect their retirements and live with the kind of dignity they planned for and deserve.  New and emerging financial challenges are facing senior citizens, including:

  • As people’s life expectancy continues to increase, the pressure on their savings will grow;

  • More people entering retirement have not saved enough and/or are carrying high levels of debt; and

  • The financial services marketplace continues to become more complex, with new and innovative products being marketed to senior citizens.

In the next phase of the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing®, I look forward to working with AARP and IPT to help the program evolve to meet these new challenges facing senior citizens.

Victims of elder financial abuse come from all walks of life, but there is one thing they all have in common: the right to enjoy their retirement years with a basic sense of security.  

Do you want to join the Campaign? Contact us at informed@pa.gov

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1 True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse: https://www.truelinkfinancial.com/research ​

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