Elder Financial Abuse Law In CaliforniaAll California financial institutions are now required by law to report suspected elder financial abuse. Effective January 1, 2007, a new California law requires banks to report suspected elder financial abuse to Adult Protective Services or local law enforcement agencies. The Act makes all officers and bank employees mandated reporters of suspected financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult in California. Although California is currently the only state which requires both a verbal and written report, it is the policy of [BANK] to report all suspected elder financial abuse to appropriate state authorities, regardless of the individual state requirements.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
Elder financial abuse is a specific form of the more general crime, financial abuse. Elder financial abuse is generally defined as the improper use of a senior’s or dependent adult’s property or assets.
- Forging a signature
- Cashing a check without permission
- Convincing an elder to withdraw large sums of money
A Dependent Adult is defined as an American resident between 18 and 64 years of age with specified physical or mental limitations that restrict the person’s ability to carry out “normal activities” or to protect his or her rights.
Tragically, it is estimated that 100,000 elders and vulnerable adults were financially abused in California alone in 2002.
Just as there are ways to prevent other crimes, there are ways to prevent elder financial abuse from occurring. Customer education is perhaps the best weapon against elder financial abuse. Many organizations are working diligently to ensure the messages about elder financial abuse and its prevention are being heard by older Americans.
Why are the elderly targeted?
- The elderly are generally a more trusting population
- The elderly may be more dependent on others for help
- They may be more isolated from a caring support group
- The elderly have a higher incidence of confusion and dementia
- Persons over 50 years old control over 70% of the nation’s wealth
- 85-90% are family members (for example adult children and spouses)
- The abuser may have employment problems
- Many are financially dependent upon the elder
- The abuser may have problems with drugs, alcohol, or mental illness
- Abusers can be caregivers, companions, trustees, individuals with powers of attorney, financial
- makes changes to property titles, or other documents and is confused about the consequences of those changes
- engages in bank activity that is erratic, unusual or uncharacteristic
- engages in bank activity inconsistent with his or her ability (such as use of an ATM card despite the fact that the customer is house-bound)
- suddenly acquires new acquaintances, particularly those who take up residence with the customer
- executes a power of attorney and is confused by the consequences of this action
- indicates his or her mail is no longer being delivered to the home address
To report suspected elder abuse or financial exploitation, call the California State Attorney General's toll-free hotline at: 1(888) 436-3600 You will be connected to your county's Adult Protective Services agency.
California’s Financial Abuse Reporting Act makes all officers and bank employees mandated reporters of suspected financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult.
Employees required to report suspected elder financial abuse are:
- Employees who deal directly with the public (face-to-face and/or over the phone)
- Employees who review financial statements, transactions, or other documents