New Legislation Aims to Help Prevent Elder Scams
As if telephone, mail, and online scamming of the public weren’t awful enough, specific scammers actually that target the elderly now. These individuals’ inherently trusting nature, the stereotype that many senior citizens are unfamiliar with newer technology, and the very specific fears associated with things like having their utilities shut off or needing a better price on healthcare or medicine make the elderly a particularly ripe target for scammers and fraudsters.
But a new bill at work in the Ohio state legislature may impose greater consequences on scammers who go after senior citizens, as well as fund support centers for people who think they may have been the victim of a scam. One key measure will be to provide a mechanism for bankers, notaries public, and other offices that oversee financial transactions with a way to report suspected fraud or scams that affect their clients. Such covered examples might be a senior citizen who wants a new will or an odd bill of sale notarized, or a bank employee who notices multiple withdrawals from a customer’s account that are suddenly taking place.
Interestingly, the bill bridges the gap between “mandatory reporting” and providing protection from lawsuits if the reports of suspected elder scamming prove unwarranted. Mandatory reporting under this bill would require people in a position of oversight over elderly citizens’ finances to report any strange behaviors that could indicate a scam, but then would also protect those mandatory reporters from civil suits arising from their reports.
This type of protection is important for helping state officials and corporate employees take elder scams seriously, and to know they are supported for doing the right thing. The bill has now passed the Ohio state House and has gone on to the Senate, and its supporters are excited about the first piece of legislation to enact protection specifically of the elderly in more than 25 years. While there have been supports in place for elderly victims to turn to, they’ve often fallen under the state’s attorneys general to oversee, meaning each new successive person in that position is tasked with keeping it up to date on the most current information.
Rather than leave anything to chance, this bill would establish protections and support that stands on its own as a state government office.