Lawmakers and advocates are hopeful a new law set to take effect Jan. 1 will help protect the state’s elderly and disabled populations from financial exploitation.Each year nearly $3 billion is lost nationally through abuse of elderly victims, said Concord Rep. Katherine Rogers, a prime sponsor of the bill that Gov. Maggie Hassan signed this year.
The new law makes financial abuse of elderly, disabled or otherwise impaired adults a crime, and it will authorize law enforcement to investigate such activity when accusations are made. “Prior to this, they would say it’s a family matter,” said Susan Staples, who coordinates an elder financial abuse community response team. “With the new statute, it’s easier to investigate and prosecute.”
The law isn’t geared toward scams, Staples said, but rather financial abuse committed by a family member, caretaker or a person known by the victim, which makes up two-thirds of this type of crime. “We’re concerned about exploitation by people they trust,” Staples said.Officials warned that financial abuse picks up during this time of year, and they urged people to contact their banks or financial advisors if they suspect any crime is being committed.
This article was written for and published in the Concord Monitor.