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Elder Financial Abuse: Hold Offenders Accountable

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One of the most tragic outcomes of many elder financial abuse cases is the disappearance of a victim's savings - their livelihood is stolen from them, and oftentimes there's no way to get it back. By taking advantage of an elder's vulnerabilities, a wrongdoer can gain access to their bank accounts, retirement funds, etc. and destroy an entire fortune overnight. Whether the crime is committed with the speed of a bank robbery or played out over a long time period, the result is the same: cruel exploitation and potential impoverishment of the victim.

Let's keep in mind that financial crimes against senior citizens are not isolated cases, but a growing threat nationwide: elder financial abuse and exploitation, according to studies, amounts to anywhere from 3 to $36 billion in yearly losses for communities across America. Is there any way to recoup such tremendous damage? While throwing the bad guy in jail achieves some measure of justice, oftentimes the money stolen is quickly spent, and the offender himself won't have any assets worth pursuing, making the situation all the more miserable.

It's a stroke of good luck if the wrongdoer does possess assets that can pursued through civil litigation, though that's frequently not the case. There is one major exception to this rule, though: the financial industry. Licensed brokers who perpetrate financial elder abuse can be held to full accountability through the firms that hired them. FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, plays a key role in this process. By the same token, banks whose employees commit elder financial abuse can be held responsible in court if they are found to be in some manner complicit or negligent. Most registered investment businesses, financial advisory firms, and banks would ultimately rather reach a settlement before litigation rather than attract negative publicity, a positive point for victims of fraud and exploitation.

Elder financial abuse is a threat to our communities, and bad actors must be held to account. Financial institutions should maintain vigilance in preventing this crime, but when corporations shirk responsibility, sometimes legal action is needed to recover what funds rightfully belong to victims. Deterring wrongdoing means encourages both professional oversight and client protection against potential harm in the future.

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