Today, Congressman Patrick Murphy's (D-PA, 8th District) legislation to create the Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults, an agency that would protect seniors from the financial exploitation and abuse, passed the House as an amendment to H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.
Rep. Murphy's amendment would fight back against what many experts call the "crime of the 21st century": financial exploitation and abuse of vulnerable senior citizens. This year alone, millions of seniors will become victims of abuse and exploitation; for every incident brought to light, 5 cases go unreported. Rep. Murphy offered this legislation because more needs to be done to fight back against this serious form of abuse, which robs millions of older Americans and their families of a staggering $2.6 billion each year. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation at the hands of those looking to take advantage of their declining physical or mental health, dependency, or isolation. With the increasing complexity of financial products and with more seniors using email and the Internet, financial exploitation is a distinct and complicated issue that must be addressed by experts well-equipped to handle the problem.
"We owe it to our parents and grandparents to do a better job of protecting them from financial exploitation," said Rep. Murphy. "The Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults is an important step in ensuring that we protect our loved ones from losing their savings, pensions, or even their homes because of these abusive predators."
"We commend Congressman Murphy for addressing one of the fastest growing and most debilitating forms of elder abuse, financial exploitation and abuse. We know that last year, financial abuse costs its elderly victims more than $2.6 billion a year, depriving millions of the life savings and retirement security they worked hard and saved for their entire lives," said Robert Blancato, National Coordinator for the Elder Justice Coalition. "Seniors deserve the crucial protections provided in this bill, which renews our commitment to safeguard our parents and grandparents from predators looking to scam them out of their hard-earned money or property."
The Office of Financial Protection for Older Adults would be dedicated solely to tackling this growing threat. It would:
* Facilitate the education of seniors on the warning signs of fraud and how to prevent becoming a victim;
* Establish best practices for programs that provide financial counseling and address the problem of misleading or fake certifications of senior financial advisors;
* Address the problem of misleading or fake certifications of senior financial advisors by providing for strengthened oversight; and
* Improve coordination between current elder protection agencies to better serve seniors.
The Elder Justice Coalition is comprised of 239 member organizations dedicated to increasing public awareness regarding elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and to promoting legislation that pertains to the prevention of elder abuse. Member organizations include the AARP and the Alliance for Retired Americans.