Task Force tackles elder abuse
Senior citizens in the United States lose a minimum of $2.9 billion each year to financial exploitation, most of which is perpetrated by family members or trusted others. According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only one in 44 cases are reported.
The problem is especially acute in Philadelphia, which has the highest proportion of seniors of the nation's 10 largest cities. In 2010, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) began partnering with the city with the support of the Mayor, District Attorney and Police Commissioner to form a task force addressing financial exploitation of the elderly.
The Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Taskforce aims to strengthen collaboration in order to prevent, detect investigate, recover assets and prosecute financial elder abuse. It also trains law enforcement, social workers, banks and community agencies about elder financial abuse. Finally, it works to raise awareness among seniors and the general community about elder financial abuse and how to prevent it, according to Joseph Snyder, director of PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services.
In 2011, the Verizon Foundation awarded PCA a $10,000 grant for Domestic Violence Prevention Healthcare & Accessibility. The grant is being used to train professionals in banking, law enforcement, accounting, social services and community organizations to detect and report elder financial exploitation.
The Verizon Foundation grant enables PCA to expand upon a pilot program, developed in 2003, which focused on training bank tellers to recognize signs of financial exploitation of senior customers. That model was created by Joseph Snyder and Linda Mill, a certified fraud examiner, as a model training and investigation program for Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo Bank).
Expanding this training to a broader range of professionals “will strengthen the coordination between organizations involved in victim protection on many levels, including agencies in the aging network, city departments, health and social services, and community-based organizations. All are on the front lines in serving older adults,” said Snyder.
To learn how to recognize the signs of elder abuse, click here.
To request organizational training on recognizing signs of financial exploitation, call Snyder at 215-765-9000, ext. 4457 or email him: firstname.lastname@example.org
PCA’s Stop Senior Scams website offers tips to detect and prevent senior scams and what to do if an individual suspects he or she may have been scammed.
Photo: KYW's Kim Glovas interviewed Deputy Commissioner Charlotte Council of the Philadelphia Police Department, for a story about the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Taskforce. Click here to listen. Photo by Eva Iavarone.