Financial elder abuse occurs when someone illegally and improperly uses an elder’s – defined as a person 60 years or older – money or belongings for their own personal use. It has become the fastest growing crime across the country. The 65 and older population has grown rapidly since 2010. It’s estimated this population will increase to 72.1 million by 2030.
Each year there is an estimated 8.68 million incidents of financial elder abuse with an average loss of $20,015 and a total loss of $113.7 billion across all 50 states. Sadly, financial elder abuse most often occurs with a family member, but can also happen with friends, staff members at nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and hired caregivers.
Combatting Financial Elder Abuse
In August 2023, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law new protections against financial elder abuse. Public Act 23-161 was unanimously voted on by the Senate and House of Representatives. This law authorizes financial institutions to temporarily suspend or hold transactions involving an account of an adult over the age of 60 if there is reasonable suspicion of financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation is defined as taking advantage of an eligible adult by another person or caretaker for monetary, personal, or other benefit, gain, or profit. If there is reasonable suspicion, financial institutions should disclose the suspected abuse to the Connecticut Department of Banking or the Connecticut Department of Social Services who will investigate the report. If appropriate, they will refer the report to law enforcement. Public Act 23- 161 takes effect July 1, 2024.
How Does the Law Work?
This law encourages financial institutions to be watchful in identifying cases. It permits banks and credit unions to suspend or hold transactions on the account for up to 45 days and be immune from liability that might otherwise come from denying immediate access to an account holder’s money if the institution acted in good faith.
What Can You Do If You Suspect Financial Elder Abuse?
If you suspect a loved one or individual you know is the victim of financial elder abuse, take these steps to report it:
- If you suspect a victim is in immediate danger, call 911 or speak to local police for help.
- If you suspect a victim is not in immediate danger, call Protective Services for the Elderly at the Department of Social Services.
- Toll-Free during business hours: 1-888-385-4225.
- After business hours, weekends or state holidays, please call Infoline at 2-1-1.
- You can also fill out a Report Form (W-675) and fax to 860-424-5091. Please note, telephone reports are preferred.