Vermont Press Releases

DFR launches initiatives to help Vermont’s senior citizens avoid fraud 

News Release - Department of Financial Regulation
Oct. 3, 2016

Dale Schaft, Information Management Officer, 802-828-

MONTPELIER – Commissioner Michael S. Pieciak announced today that the Department of Financial Regulation will launch a number of initiatives designed to combat elder financial abuse in Vermont. In conjunction with National Senior$afe Training Week, October 2-8, DFR has compiled a number of resources aimed at raising awareness and establishing procedures for reporting possible financial abuse.

Elder financial abuse has been termed the “Crime of the 21st Century.” According to the Investor Production Trust, it is estimated that one of every five citizens over the age of 65 has been victimized by a financial fraud, totaling a loss of approximately $2.9 billion annually.

Vermont is particularly susceptible to elder financial abuse because it has the second oldest median age in the country with 21.1 percent of Vermonters over the age of 60 and that segment of the population is growing more rapidly than any other age group. In addition to the rising number of retirees here and nationwide, senior citizens are also vulnerable because of the amount of money they have saved in preparation for retirement.

Pieciak said the key to successfully lowering the number of financial fraud victims is to increase educational outreach across the state and arm Vermonters with the financial literacy necessary to avoid fraudulent activity.

“Elder financial abuse is a serious and growing problem. The Department will devote the necessary resources and work cooperatively with industry and those in government to root out elder financial abuse in Vermont,” he said.

One way to do that is to provide training for financial professionals that focuses on identifying possible red flags. The Department is planning trainings this fall for investment advisors and broker-dealers, and will expand trainings to include tellers and other front-line staff at Vermont banks and credit unions as well as other financial professionals.

DFR is also implementing an elder abuse response team that will quickly investigate reported cases and work collaboratively with partner agencies to investigate and take legal action if necessary. E-mail [email protected] to provide to tips, ask questions or reports instances of elder financial abuse.

At the state level, Vermont was recently the first state to fully implement a model state regulation designed to give industry participants and state regulators new tools to help detect and prevent elder financial abuse. The regulation requires investment professionals to report suspected cases of elder financial abuse to the Department and Adult Protective Services. It also authorizes delayed disbursements from investment accounts for up to 15 business days while authorities investigate.

In addition to these multi-faceted efforts to address the serious problem of elder financial abuse, DFR will seek tougher penalties for individuals who perpetrate financial crimes against Vermont’s vulnerable population.

Senior$afe is a national program that was created to help those in the financial services industries learn more about this growing problem.

For more information or to request a Department representative to speak at your next meeting or event about tips and strategies to avoid becoming a victim of financial fraud, please contact Dale Schaft at 802-828-4872 or e-mail [email protected].

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