DCCA Calls Attention to Elder Abuse
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and Hawai’i Securities Commissioner Ty Nohara is recognizing the day by encouraging the community to protect Hawai’i’s kupuna by reporting possible financial abuse.
First launched in 2006, WEAAD is the product of the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization.
“Elder abuse can come in many forms- physical, financial, emotional, neglect, or abandonment,” said Nohara. “We often see several types of abuse being inflicted at the same time.”
Raising awareness of cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes that affect elder abuse and neglect, and promoting a better understanding, was the basis of WEAAD’s establishment.
According to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, financial abuse is the most common form of abuse to elders. It is estimated that it costs victims $2.9 billion yearly.
“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century as the growing senior population is increasingly targeted,” explained Nohara. “Studies show that family members and caregivers are the wrongdoers in more than half of these cases. Anyone can – and should – report abuse of an elderly person, whether it is physical, emotional, or financial.”
The Hawai’i Office of the Securities Commissioner, with help from the North American Securities Administrators Association and the National Adult Protective Services Association, is offering tools to the community to identify and report financial abuse or exploitation. Investment fraud is a large area of concern because victims can see their savings depleted with little or no opportunity to recover financial stability.
“Financial losses through investment fraud can be devastating for our local families and community,” said Nohara. “Those who lose their life savings suffer a physical, emotional, and financial toll. Don’t wait. It’s vital that financial abuse be reported promptly to our office.”
There are many forms of securities fraud, including fraudulent investments, or even a legitimate product that is unsuitable for the investor’s circumstances. Unregistered products, thefts of funds, or products sold by an unlicensed advisor or broker are also investment problems that are concerns.
The Hawai’i Office of the Securities Commissioner invites investors and caregivers to “investigate before investing” by calling its office to verify if the product or person selling it are registered or if there have been complaints.
Investment fraud should be reported by calling the State of Hawai’i’s Securities Enforcement Branch at (808) 586-2740 or toll free at 1-877-HI-SCAMS.
Elder abuse of all other types should be reported to Hawai’i’s Protective and Community Services Branch. In East Hawai’i, the number is 933-8820, while in West Hawai’i, the number is 327-6280.
Abuse should also be reported to the Hawai’i Police Department.