United States Government Accountability Office GAO Report to Congressional Requesters ELDER JUSTICE November 2012 National Strategy Needed to Effectively Combat Elder Financial Exploitation GAO-13-110 November 2012 ELDER JUSTICE National Strategy Needed to Effectively Combat Elder Financial Exploitation Highlights of GAO-13-110, a report to congressional requesters Why GAO Did This Study What GAO Found Elder financial exploitation is the illegal Officials in each of the four states GAO contacted identified the need for more or improper use of an older adult’s safeguards and public awareness activities to help prevent elder financial funds or property. It has been exploitation. They also noted that it is difficult to prevent exploitation by described as an epidemic with society- individuals such as financial services providers, power of attorney agents, wide repercussions. While combating guardians, and paid in-home caregivers. Although states have primary elder financial exploitation is largely the responsibility for combating elder financial exploitation, the federal government responsibility of state and local social could disseminate information on model power of attorney legislation, for service, criminal justice, and consumer example, to help states better safeguard against power of attorney abuse—one protection agencies, the federal type of federal activity authorized under the Older Americans Act of 1965. In government has a role to play in this addition, experts and state and local officials told GAO that many older adults area as well. GAO was asked to review issues related to elder financial need more information about what constitutes elder financial exploitation in order exploitation. This report describes the to report and avoid it. The seven federal agencies GAO reviewed have challenges states face in (1) preventing undertaken activities to increase public awareness of elder financial exploitation. and (2) responding to elder financial While some experts observed that a nationwide approach to educating the public exploitation, as well as the actions is needed, federal public awareness activities are not currently conducted as part some federal agencies have taken to of a broader coordinated approach, which GAO believes could help ensure the help states address these challenges. effective use of federal resources. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council, which held its first meeting in 2012, could be the vehicle for developing and To obtain this information, GAO implementing a coordinated national strategy. The Council is composed of interviewed state and local social officials from federal agencies and is charged with developing national priorities service, criminal justice, and consumer and coordinating federal elder justice activities. protection officials in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania—states Experts and officials in each state GAO reviewed indicated that difficulty 1) with large elderly populations; officials gaining expertise, 2) sustaining collaboration between law enforcement and adult in seven federal agencies; and various protective services agencies, and 3) obtaining data hinders their response to elder abuse experts. GAO also elder financial exploitation. As with prevention, many federal agencies have analyzed federal strategic plans and individually taken steps to address these challenges that are in line with their own other documents and reviewed missions. For example, the Department of Justice (Justice) has begun to relevant research, federal laws and construct a website that contains training and other materials prosecutors can regulations, and state laws. use to build their expertise in investigating and prosecuting elder abuse, which What GAO Recommends includes elder financial exploitation. However, there are gaps in federal support in some areas. For example, law enforcement officials in each of the four states Federal agencies should develop a GAO reviewed indicated that it is not clear how they should obtain the federal written national strategy addressing support they need to respond to interstate and international cases. Justice can challenges GAO identified, facilitate provide this information, in keeping with its priority to strengthen its relationship case investigation and prosecution, with state and local law enforcement. Similarly, the Federal Trade Commission’s and improve data, among other things. (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network database compiles incidents of financial The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Health exploitation reported to it by many sources around the country but receives and Human Services supported GAO’s incidents from state government agencies in only 12 states. The database would recommendations. FTC did not believe be of greater use if FTC obtained incidents from more of the states and it is necessary to examine the contained an indicator that the incident involved an older adult. feasibility of requiring victim’s age in complaints. GAO maintains the importance of its recommendation. View GAO-13-110. For more information, contact Kay Brown at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. United States Government Accountability Office Contents Letter 1 Background 4 States Identified the Need for More Safeguards and Public Awareness Activities to Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation 12 Difficulty Gaining Expertise, Sustaining Collaboration, and Obtaining Data Hinders States’ Responses to Elder Financial Exploitation 22 Conclusions 38 Recommendations for Executive Action 39 Response to Agency Comments 41 Appendix I Administration on Aging 44 Appendix II Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 45 Appendix III Federal Trade Commission 46 Appendix IV Financial Crimes Enforcement Network 47 Appendix V Department of Justice 48 Appendix VI Federal Bureau of Investigation 49 Appendix VII U.S. Attorneys 50 Appendix VIII U.S. Postal Inspection Service 51 Page i GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix IX Securities and Exchange Commission 52 Appendix X Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation 53 Appendix XI Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation 58 Appendix XII Criminal Background Check Requirements for In-home Caregivers in Selected States 63 Appendix XIII Resource Centers Supported by the Administration on Aging 64 Appendix XIV Example of a Letter Promoting a Fraudulent Sweepstakes Scheme 65 Appendix XV Total Number of FTC Consumer Sentinel Network Complaints by Source, CY 2011 66 Appendix XVI Comments from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 67 Appendix XVII Comments from the Department of Health and Human Services 70 Appendix XVIII GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements 72 Page ii GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Related GAO Products 73 Tables Table 1: Examples of Forms of Elder Financial Exploitation by Type of Perpetrator 4 Table 2: Selected Public Awareness Efforts of Federal Agencies Related to Elder Financial Exploitation 21 Table 3: Examples of AoA and Justice Resources That Could Be Used to Increase State and Local Expertise about Elder Financial Exploitation 24 Table 4: Examples of Federal Grants That Encourage Collaboration among State Agencies That Respond to Elder Abuse 27 Table 5: Federal Administrative Data Systems That Collect Incidents of Elder Financial Exploitation 36 Figures Figure 1: State and Federal Systems and Agencies Positioned to Combat Elder Financial Exploitationa 6 Figure 2: Federal Agencies with Missions That Involve Combating Elder Financial Exploitation 8 Figure 3: Federal Agencies’ Responsibilities in Combating International and Interstate Financial Crimes 30 Page iii GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Abbreviations AoA Administration on Aging APS Adult protective services CFPB Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (commonly referred to as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) CDAA California District Attorneys Association Consumer Sentinel Consumer Sentinel Network database HHS Department of Health and Human Services Justice Department of Justice EFPN Elder Financial Protection Network EJA Elder Justice Act of 2009 EJCC Elder Justice Coordinating Council FTC Federal Trade Commission FinCEN Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FINRA Financial Industry Regulatory Authority NASAA North American Securities Administrators NCEA National Center on Elder Abuse Office for Older Office for the Financial Protection of Older Americans Americans OAA Older Americans Act of 1965 RFPA Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 SEC Securities and Exchange Commission SAR Suspicious Activity Report This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately. Page iv GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548 November 15, 2012 Congressional Requesters Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets. 1 Experts have described it as an epidemic with society-wide repercussions. Perpetrators may be family members; paid home care workers; those with fiduciary responsibilities, such as financial advisors or legal guardians; or strangers who inundate older adults with mail, telephone, or Internet scams. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation because, as research has shown, financial decision-making ability decreases with age. Moreover, older adults are often ashamed to report exploitation or even admit that they have been exploited because they are afraid of losing their independence. As a result, existing data on elder financial exploitation may substantially underestimate its extent. Elder financial exploitation has far-reaching effects on its victims in particular and society in general. A study of media reports from April to June 2010 estimated that financial exploitation cost older adults at least $2.9 billion in 2010. 2 The money that older adults lose in these cases is rarely recovered, and the loss can undermine both the health of older adults and their ability to support or care for themselves. Consequently, the burden of caring for exploited older adults may fall on various state and federal programs. For example, a review of 80 elder financial exploitation cases in Utah in 2010 found the state’s Medicaid program would potentially have to pay about $900,000 to cover the cost of care for older adults in that state who had suffered substantial losses. 3 1 See GAO, Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse, GAO-11-208 (Washington, D.C.: March 2, 2011). 2 MetLife Mature Market Institute et. al., The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation against America’s Elders (2011). The study assumed that the approximately $530 million in loss from all forms of elder financial abuse occurred at the same rate for the other 9 months of the year. It further assumed that this loss would be the same for the 36 percent of articles about elder financial abuse that the study identified but did not cite a specific dollar figure for. 3 Gunther, Jilenne, The 2010 Utah Cost of Financial Exploitation, Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services (2012). Page 1 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation As the U.S. population ages, growing numbers of older adults could be at risk of financial exploitation, so its potential impact on society is likely to increase. Combating elder financial exploitation is primarily the responsibility of state and local agencies. At the same time, however, multiple federal agencies have a role to play in supporting state and local efforts. In light of these growing concerns, we were asked to provide information on elder financial exploitation issues. Specifically, this report addresses the challenges states face in (1) preventing and (2) responding to elder financial exploitation, as well as the actions some federal agencies have taken to help states address these challenges. To address these objectives, we interviewed officials from agencies that included state and local social services, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. We selected these states to achieve variation in location, because of the large size of their elder population, and because each state had a number of initiatives to combat elder financial exploitation. Across the four states, we held interviews with representatives from entities such as state and local adult protective services (APS) agencies; offices of attorneys general; police and sheriffs’ departments; local district attorneys and courts; and state banking, securities, and insurance regulators. In three of the four states we also spoke with private organizations that work on issues related to elder financial exploitation, such as a university research center, elder abuse forensic center, and state banking association. In Pennsylvania, we met with experts from the Institute on Protective Services at Temple University and also attended an elder financial exploitation training for APS workers that was hosted by the Institute. We focused only on financial exploitation of older adults living at home, not on older adults in long-term care facilities. We also interviewed experts in the field of elder abuse—including academics and practitioners—and representatives from a variety of non- profit and private sector organizations, such as the AARP, American Bar Association, and American Bankers Association. We interviewed representatives from University of California at Irvine’s Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect and the University of Kentucky’s Justice Center for Elders and Vulnerable Adults. In addition, in order to gain the perspectives of large national and small community banks, we interviewed officials at six financial institutions. These banks are not, however, representative of banks nationwide. Furthermore, we interviewed officials and analyzed strategic plans and other documents from seven federal agencies—including the Page 2 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Administration on Aging (AoA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (commonly referred to as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB), Department of Justice (Justice), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the Department of the Treasury, Postal Inspection Service, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In total, we held dozens of interviews with experts and officials from federal, state, local, and non-governmental organizations. We also reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations, as well as selected state laws. Moreover, we attended the initial meeting of members of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC), which includes officials from 11 federal agencies with an interest in elder abuse. We also attended several conferences related to elder financial exploitation, including the American Society on Aging’s 2012 Aging in America Conference, California District Attorneys Association’s (CDAA) 2011 Elder Abuse Symposium, Stanford Center on Longevity and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) 2011 State and Future of Financial Fraud Conference, Elder Financial Protection Network’s (EFPN) 2012 Call to Action Conference, and a 2011 webcast on elder issues hosted by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and State Bar Association’s 2011 Elder Issues Webcast. At the CDAA Symposium, we held small group meetings with district attorneys and investigators from various counties in California. And at the EFPN Conference we held a small group meeting with local district attorneys, advocates, a state insurance agency official, and a financial institution. To illustrate the complexities of combating elder exploitation, we met with a social service agency, several criminal justice agencies, and, in one case, a family member to develop detailed case histories on six prosecuted cases of elder financial exploitation. The perpetrators in these cases were family members, financial services providers, or telephone scammers. We identified cases from news stories and internet searches. We selected six cases because they (1) occurred in three of our four review states (California, New York, and Pennsylvania), (2) involved each of the different types of elder financial exploitation (exploitation by family or trusted others, exploitation by financial services providers, and exploitation by strangers), and (3) included instances where more than one agency or system was involved. The cases we selected are a non- generalizable sample of elder financial exploitation cases. Page 3 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Lastly, we identified and reviewed research published from 2000 onward on elder financial abuse or elder financial exploitation by searching numerous bibliographic databases and reviewing materials cited by elder abuse experts or published by federal, state, and non-governmental organizations. We focused our review on published research on the extent, impact, cost, and nature of elder financial exploitation. We also interviewed an official from the Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services to discuss the state’s study on the cost of elder financial exploitation. We conducted this performance audit from November 2011 to November 2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. Our investigative activities were conducted in accordance with standards prescribed by the Council of the Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency. Elder financial exploitation, one type of elder abuse, can occur in Background conjunction with, and might lead to other types of elder abuse. 4 Financial exploitation of older adults can take many forms and perpetrators can include family members, friends, legal guardians, paid caregivers, and strangers. Table 1 provides some examples. Table 1: Examples of Forms of Elder Financial Exploitation by Type of Perpetrator Perpetrators Forms Family members, friends, in-home caregivers, —Theft of cash or other valuables a legal guardians, representative payees , etc. —Withdrawals from bank accounts or use of credit cards —Transfer of deeds —Misuse of an older adult’s power of attorney —Misappropriation of an incapacitated older adult’s income or assets —Identity theft 4 Other types of elder abuse include physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect and self-neglect. Page 4 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Perpetrators Forms Financial services providers (brokers, —Sale of fraudulent investments (Ponzi or pyramid schemes) financial advisors, insurance agents, or —Sale of financial products or services unsuitable for an older adult’s others in the financial services industry) circumstances, such as long-term annuities Strangers —Lottery, mail, telephone, or Internet scams —Door-to-door home repair scams —Identity theft Source: GAO analysis of published research. a Representative payees are persons who receive Social Security benefits on behalf of recipients who are determined to be incapable of managing their finances. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.601 and 416.2001. Older adults are particularly attractive targets for financial exploitation by unscrupulous individuals. As a group, older adults tend to possess more wealth than those who are younger because they have had a longer time to acquire it. In addition, the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias that undermine judgment increases with age. 5 Moreover, financial capacity—the capacity to manage money and financial assets in ways that meet one’s needs—generally declines with age, and this decline may go unaddressed until it is too late. 6 State and local agencies in the social services, criminal justice, and consumer protection systems in each state are at the forefront of efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial exploitation. Seven federal agencies whose missions correspond to the state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection systems are positioned to contribute to state and local efforts in this area: AoA, CFPB, Justice, FTC, FinCEN, SEC, and the Postal Inspection Service (see fig. 1). 7 5 Hebert et al., “Alzheimer Disease in the US Population,” Archives of Neurology, 60 (August 2003): 1119-1122. 6 Agarwal et al., “The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle with Implications for Regulation,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2 (Washington, D.C.: 2009): 51-117. 7 See appendixes I through IX for additional information on each of these agencies. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also functions as a federal consumer protection agency in that they administer the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program, the nation’s largest reverse mortgage program for older adults. Page 5 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation a Figure 1: State and Federal Systems and Agencies Positioned to Combat Elder Financial Exploitation a The relationship between the federal and the state and local agencies in a given system varies. b State attorneys general also play a consumer protection role. c Justice also plays a consumer protection role. Page 6 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation At the state and local level, APS agencies investigate and substantiate reports of suspected elder abuse, including financial exploitation and, if the client agrees to accept help, can arrange for services to secure their safety and meet their basic needs. APS can also refer cases to law enforcement agencies or district attorneys for criminal investigation and prosecution. Whether an elder financial exploitation case comes to the attention of criminal justice authorities through referral from APS or some other means, law enforcement agencies and district attorneys can exercise broad discretion when deciding if a case warrants any action on their part. State-level consumer protection agencies—such as banking, securities, and insurance regulators—conduct examinations to ensure that rules to protect consumers are followed and take enforcement actions against institutions that break the rules. State attorneys general may also prosecute cases or respond to consumer protection inquiries. Although combating elder financial abuse is explicitly included in the mission of only one federal agency, CFPB’s Office for the Financial Protection of Older Americans (Office for Older Americans), it is implicit in the mission of others that work to combat elder abuse, protect consumers or investors, or prevent fraud (see fig. 2). Page 7 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Figure 2: Federal Agencies with Missions That Involve Combating Elder Financial Exploitation a Justice also plays a consumer protection role. Specifically, two of Justice’s strategic objectives are to (1) prevent and intervene in crimes against vulnerable populations; uphold the rights of, and improve services to, America’s crime victims; and (2) combat corruption, economic crimes, and international organized crime. Federal legislation has established a foundation for the federal government to assume a leadership role in combating elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation, and basis for greater coordination Page 8 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation across federal agencies in this area. The Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA) 8 requires AoA to develop objectives, priorities, policy, and a long- term plan for • facilitating the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of a coordinated, multidisciplinary elder justice system in the United States; • promoting collaborative efforts and diminishing duplicative efforts in the development and carrying out of elder justice programs at the federal, state, and local levels; • establishing an information clearinghouse to collect, maintain, and disseminate information concerning best practices and resources for training, technical assistance, and other activities to assist states and communities to carry out evidence-based programs to prevent and address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation; • working with states, Justice, and other federal agencies to annually collect, maintain, and disseminate data on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, to the extent practicable; • establishing federal guidelines and disseminating best practices for uniform data collection and reporting by states; • conducting research on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and • carrying out a study to determine the extent of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in all settings. 9 The Elder Justice Act of 2009 (EJA) 10 contains provisions pertaining to APS as well as elder justice, in general. It authorizes funding for 8 Pub. L. 89-73, 79 Stat. 218 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 3001-3058ff). 9 42 U.S.C. § 3011(e)(2). 10 Pub. L. No. 111-148, tit. VI, subtit. H, 124 Stat. 119, 782-804 (2010) (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1320b-25, 1395i-3a, and 1397j-1397m-5). The EJA was enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Page 9 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation • HHS to o annually collect and disseminate data regarding elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders in coordination with Justice; 11 o develop and disseminate information on best practices and provide training for carrying out adult protective services; 12 o conduct research related to the provision of adult protective services; 13 o provide technical assistance to states and others that provide or fund the provision of adult protective services; 14 and o establish 10 elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation forensic centers, in consultation with Justice, that would (1) conduct research on forensic markers for elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and methodologies for determining when and how health care, emergency, social and protective, and legal service providers should intervene and when these cases should be reported to law enforcement; (2) develop forensic expertise regarding elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and (3) use the data they have collected to develop, in coordination with Justice, the capacity of geriatric health care professionals and law enforcement authorities to collect forensic evidence, including evidence needed to determine if elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred. 15 11 § 2042(a)(1)(B) and (2), 124 Stat. 794 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1397m-1(a)(1)(B) and (2)). 12 § 2042(a)(1)(C), 124 Stat. 794 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1397m-1(a)(1)(C)). 13 § 2042(a)(1)(D), 124 Stat. 794 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1397m-1(a)(1)(D)). 14 § 2042(a)(1)(E), 124 Stat. 794 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1397m-1(a)(1)(E)). 15 § 2031, 124 Stat. 790-91 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1397l). Page 10 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation • Grants to state and local governments for demonstration projects that test methods and training to detect or prevent elder abuse or financial exploitation; 16 and • An Elder Justice Coordinating Council and an Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation to develop priorities for the elder justice field, coordinate federal activities, and provide recommendations to Congress. 17 Currently, the Elder Justice Coordinating Council consists of the following federal agencies: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Corporation for National and Community Service, 18 Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Trade Commission, Postal Inspection Service, and Social Security Administration. Coordination among federal agencies is also a feature of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which established CFPB, requiring it to coordinate its consumer protection efforts of older adults with other federal agencies. 19 CFPB’s Office for Older Americans is charged with facilitating the financial literacy of seniors on protection from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices and on current and future financial choices. 20 16 § 2042(c), 124 Stat. 795 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 1397m-1(c)). 17 §§ 2021 and 2022, 124 Stat. 786-89 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1397k and 1397k-1). 18 The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund. 42 U.S.C. § 12651. 19 Pub. L. No. 111-203, § 1015, 124 Stat. 1376, 1974 (2010) (codified at 12 U.S.C. § 5495). 20 § 1013(g)(1), 124 Stat. 1973 (codified at 12 U.S.C. § 5493(g)(1)). Page 11 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation States Identified the Need for More Safeguards and Public Awareness Activities to Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation States Cited Need for More According to officials in the four states we visited, financial exploitation of Safeguards to Prevent older adults by financial services providers, power of attorney agents, and Elder Financial in-home caregivers is particularly difficult to prevent. 21 Exploitation Financial Services Providers Older adults may consult with a variety of financial professionals, such as financial planners, 22 broker-dealers, 23 and insurance agents. 24 However, 21 See appendix X for examples of activities undertaken by APS, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania to prevent elder financial exploitation by financial services providers, power of attorney agents, and in-home caregivers. See appendix XI for examples of these activities undertaken by private organizations. 22 Financial planners can provide a variety of services, including preparing financial plans for clients based on their financial circumstances and objectives and making recommendations for specific actions clients may take. In many cases, financial planners also help implement these recommendations by, for example, selling investment products, such as insurance, securities, or other investments. Financial planners are subject to federal and state regulation pertaining to investment advisers, broker-dealers, and insurance agents, depending on the services they provide. See GAO, Consumer Finance: Regulatory Coverage Generally Exists for Financial Planners, but Consumer Protection Issues Remain, GAO-11-235 (Washington, D.C.: January 18, 2011). 23 Broker-dealers handle trades between the buyers and sellers of securities and charge a fee to do so. Broker-dealers may buy securities from customers or sell from their own inventory. Most are also members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is a self-regulatory organization with oversight of all broker-dealers doing business with the public in the United States. 24 Insurance agents sell products, such as life insurance or annuities. They must be licensed by the states to sell these products and are subject to state insurance regulation. The sale of variable insurance products, such as variable life insurance or variable annuities, is subject to both state insurance regulation and broker-dealer regulation. See GAO-11-235. Page 12 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation older adults, similar to other consumers, may lack the information to make sound decisions about choosing a financial services provider and protecting their assets from exploitation. As a result, they may unknowingly put themselves at risk of financial exploitation. Individuals who present themselves as financial planners may adopt a variety of titles and designations. In some cases, privately conferred designations—such as Certified Financial Planner®—require formal certification procedures, including examinations and continuing professional education credits, while other designations may merely signify that membership dues have been paid. Designations that imply expertise in advising older adults have been a source of particular concern among state securities regulators, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). 25 Older adults may lack information to distinguish among the various senior specific designations. Indeed, in 2011, we reported that there is some confusion about what these titles mean and the level of skill required to obtain them. 26 Exploitation by “Senior Specialist” Calling himself a senior financial advisor, an insurance agent licensed in California met an 89-year-old partially blind, intermittently confused man at a senior center. The agent persuaded him to invest about $250,000 in a flexible premium deferred annuity, warning him not to let anyone talk him out of it. As a result, the man was left with no penalty-free access to his entire life savings for the next 11 years, while the agent earned a commission on this transaction. To earn about $16,000 more in commissions, the agent then convinced the man to move half the amount invested in the annuity into unregistered stock, which cost the man a surrender fee of about $10,000. The stock turned out to be worthless, leaving the man with a fraction of what he had when he met the agent. Attempts by the man’s nephew to retrieve his uncle’s money were unsuccessful. The nephew reported the insurance agent to the California Department of Insurance, which eventually revoked the agent’s license, but local police did not pursue the older adult’s case. While the insurance agent faced no criminal charges in this case, he was later sentenced to 3 years in prison for defrauding another older adult. Another concern is that older adults may be fooled by investment professionals who use questionable tactics to market financial products, 25 NASAA is a national membership organization for state securities regulators. 26 See GAO-11-235. Page 13 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation such as “free lunch seminars” at which financial professionals seek to sell financial products to older adults during a free meal. SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and NASAA examined 110 firms that sponsored free lunch seminars from April 2006 to June 2007 offered in seven states and found that 63 seminars used misleading advertising and sales materials, 25 seminars resulted in unsuitable recommendations, and in 14 seminars there were fraudulent practices used, such as selling fictitious investments. 27 Preventing the sale of unsuitable or fraudulent investments to older adults is difficult. 28 An investment can be unsuitable for an older adult if it has features that might not provide its intended benefit during the investor’s lifetime. Older adults also can be sold what they believe to be legitimate investments, but are actually completely fraudulent products that hold little or no value. Investment Fraud Using a “Ponzi” Scheme The founder and president of a real estate and financial consulting firm convinced around 200 individuals—about one-third of whom were older adults—to invest in real estate projects that failed to generate any significant revenue. He also convinced them to obtain reverse mortgages on their homes, and to invest the proceeds with his firm. The investments turned out to be a “Ponzi” scheme. Specifically, the perpetrator paid distributions to some investors from others’ deposits; misled investors with false amortization schedules; and used investors’ money to pay for his Porsche, mortgage, and other personal expenses. The scheme was reported to FINRA, investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted by the Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office, which sought sentencing enhancements for targeting the elderly. Victims lost over $12 million. They also reported irreplaceable financial losses, emotional distress, feelings of betrayal and disbelief, and various physical symptoms as a result. SEC has developed some educational materials and SEC and CFPB have conducted research related to investment fraud that targets older adults. For example, SEC has published a guide for older adults that counsels them to check their investment adviser’s disciplinary history, lists warning signs of fraud, and provides information on where to go for 27 SEC, FINRA, and NASAA, Protecting Senior Investors: Report on Examinations of Securities Firms Providing “Free Lunch” Sales Seminars (2007). 28 SEC, Guide for Seniors: Protect Yourself Against Investment Fraud; SEC, FINRA, and NASAA, Investor Alert, Investment Products and Sales Practices Commonly Used to Defraud Seniors: Stories from the Frontline. Page 14 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation help. 29 SEC also provides a link to a FINRA website that provides consumers with the required qualifications, including educational requirements, of the designations used by securities professionals. In August 2012, SEC released a study on financial literacy among investors and stated the agency’s desire to develop a strategy for increasing the financial literacy of certain groups, including older adults. CFPB plans to issue a report in early 2013 to Congress and the SEC that will address providing information to older adults about financial advisors and their credentials. In June 2012, the CFPB issued a public inquiry for information about elder financial exploitation, including a question on what resources older adults have to determine the legitimacy, value, and authenticity of credentials held by investment professionals. 30 CFPB expects to share its results in 2013. Power of Attorney Older adults can use a legal document referred to as a financial power of attorney to appoint another person (an agent) to manage their finances should they become incapable of doing so. Having a financial power of attorney enables an older adult (a principal) to choose the person who can legally make these decisions for them, when needed. Powers of attorney are easy for anyone to create, can vary in specificity and format, and do not require legal assistance or a court for execution. Each of the four states we contacted has a law that helps prevent misuse of powers of attorney by specifying the responsibilities of agents and, in at least one, penalties for misuse. However, powers of attorney can be forged or perhaps otherwise improperly obtained without a principal’s knowledge or consent and an agent can easily use the principal’s money for his or her own benefit. For this reason, many state and local officials we interviewed in the four states were concerned about misuse of these instruments. For example, one Pennsylvania official described power of attorney documents as a “powerful, simple, and dangerous tool.” 29 SEC, Guide for Seniors: Protect Yourself Against Investment Fraud. 30 CFPB, “Request for Information Regarding Senior Financial Exploitation,” 77 Fed. Reg. 36,491 (June 19, 2012). Page 15 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Power of Attorney Abuse A month after an elderly man with dementia and his wife agreed to add their daughter’s name to their bank account, the daughter convinced her mother to sign a document providing her financial power of attorney. When the woman signed, she was in the hospital for a broken hip and a stroke and later claimed she was heavily medicated. Over the next 3 months, the daughter placed the deed to her parent’s home in her name, wrote checks on their account totaling nearly $600,000 that were never questioned by the bank, and attempted to withdraw about $500,000 more. When the woman’s son discovered what had been happening, he had the bank stop payment on the $500,000 and asked the local district attorney to investigate. The daughter was charged with numerous counts of theft, pled guilty, and was sentenced to 3 years probation. The deed was transferred back to the woman and although the prosecutor sought restitution, the $600,000 was not recoverable—it had been used to pay off the daughter’s mortgage, country club membership, and other bills. Some APS and criminal justice officials we spoke to indicated that stronger state power of attorney laws could help prevent elder financial exploitation by agents. For example, Pennsylvania officials said that current state laws have been ineffective at (1) creating practices to monitor the activities of power of attorney agents and (2) encouraging banks to question power of attorney documents they find questionable. In California, law enforcement officials noted that notaries were not always held accountable for their role in signing power of attorney documents. To help strengthen state laws designed to prevent misuse of financial powers of attorney, the Uniform Law Commission 31 has developed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, which • explicitly defines the duties of the power of attorney agent, including fiduciary duties such as acting in good faith and keeping careful records; • allows a third party to refuse to honor a power of attorney agreement if there is a good faith belief that the principal may be subject to abuse, and requires the third party to report to APS; • allows co-agents to be appointed for additional third-party oversight; and • imposes liability on agents who violate the law. 31 The Uniform Law Commission is a state-supported organization that drafts model legislation to promote clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. Page 16 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation According to the Uniform Law Commission, 13 states have adopted the entire Uniform Power of Attorney Act. 32 Others have enacted various other power of attorney laws. For example, New York requires an agent to provide a full accounting to APS when it is investigating a report that the principal may be in need of protective or other services or the victim of abuse or neglect. If it is not provided within 15 days, APS can commence a special proceeding to compel the production of the information. Illinois has added safeguards for principals to its law and created additional court remedies for violations of the law. However, according to the Uniform Law Commission, a number of states have made no changes to laws governing powers of attorney since the Uniform Power of Attorney Act was published. Powers of attorney are generally regulated under state, not federal, law; however, AoA and CFPB are providing some information to states and power of attorney agents to help prevent power of attorney abuse. The AoA-supported National Legal Resource Center co-sponsors trainings for states on the adoption of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Furthermore, the CFPB is developing a guide to educate “lay fiduciaries”—including guardians and agents under powers of attorney—about their responsibilities, and is planning to develop several state-specific lay fiduciary guides, scheduled for release in 2013. Guardians There are limited safeguards to protect older adults from abuse by guardians, who are granted authority by a state court to make decisions in the best interest of an incapacitated individual concerning his or her person or property. While guardians can play a key role in managing the assets of these older adults, we have noted in past reports that guardians are only subject to limited safeguards that could protect these older adults from financial exploitation. For example, local officials in California noted that it can be hard to determine whether a person applying to be a guardian is doing so to further his ward’s best interests. We have also reported that few states conduct criminal background checks on potential guardians. Moreover, we have noted concerns with weak court oversight of appointed guardians, as well as poor communication between the 32 According to the Uniform Law Commission, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. Page 17 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation courts and federal agencies that have enabled guardians to chronically abuse their wards and/or others. 33 Caregivers Exploitation by in-home caregivers was also cited by local APS officials, police, and district attorneys we spoke to as a type of abuse that is difficult to prevent. These caregivers range from personal care aides who provide non-medical assistance such as helping with laundry and cooking, to home health aides who check an older adult’s vital signs or assist with medical equipment. In-home caregivers may be employed by a private company approved to provide services via a state’s OAA 34 program or independently hired by older adults or their families. Caregiver services may also be covered under a state Medicaid program if the individual is eligible for Medicaid. 35 Older adults may rely on and trust in-home caregivers, and some caregivers have used that relationship to exploit their clients. 36 For example, a caregiver may be given access to an older adult’s ATM or credit card to help with banking or grocery shopping and later be found withdrawing money or purchasing items for themselves. As the population ages and public policies encourage older adults to remain in their homes for as long as practical, there will be an increased need for in-home caregivers. States are responsible for protecting older adults from exploitation by in- home caregivers, and safeguards vary by state. Police and district attorneys we interviewed were concerned that in-home caregivers are 33 See GAO, Guardianships: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Abuse, and Neglect of Seniors, GAO-10-1046 (Washington, D.C.: September 30, 2010), and GAO, Incapacitated Adults: Oversight of Federal Fiduciaries and Court-Appointed Guardians Needs Improvement, GAO-11-678 (Washington, D.C.: July 22, 2011). 34 OAA Title III-B provides funding for in-home services, such as personal care, chore, and homemaker assistance. 35 42 U.S.C. § 1396d(a)(7). Medicaid is a joint federal-state financing program for health care services for certain low-income individuals. State Medicaid programs may cover home-based care, such as personal care and homemaker services, for Medicaid beneficiaries who need help with self-care due to disabilities or health conditions. 36 According to AoA, many of those who exploit older adults are informal or family caregivers who are not employed or subject to background checks and this may be a more difficult type of exploitation to prevent. Page 18 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation subject to limited, if any, background checks. A California law enforcement official told us that caregivers suspected of exploiting older adults sometimes have a history of theft. While the Medicaid program requires states to develop and implement home care provider qualification standards, there is no federal Medicaid requirement for criminal background checks. 37 According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while many states have required agencies to conduct background checks before employing in-home caregivers who are paid by Medicaid or with other state funds, these laws vary greatly in their breadth and scope and the amount of flexibility afforded the agencies when they use the checks to make hiring decisions. 38 Napa County, California recently initiated an innovative paid in-home caregiver screening initiative. Before in-home caregivers can work in that county, they must submit to a background check and obtain a permit annually. 39 While background checks for in-home caregivers help flag potential abusers, an AARP study has found that states do not always use all available federal, state, and local criminal data systems. For one, the implementation cost may discourage their use. Moreover, their effectiveness in reducing elder abuse, in general, is unproven. 40 As required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, 41 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services implemented the National Background Check Program that encourages states to adopt safeguards to protect clients of in-home caregivers. This voluntary program provides grants to states to conduct background checks for employees of long- term care facilities and providers, such as home health agencies and 37 States must enact standards for provider participation to ensure that providers are qualified, effective, and cost-efficient, and to protect program beneficiaries. At the same time, these requirements must not unfairly restrict participation in the Medicaid program. As long as states meet these criteria, they have significant latitude in specifying their provider qualification requirements. AARP Public Policy Institute, Safe at Home? Developing Effective Criminal Background Checks and Other Screening Policies for Home Care Workers (September 2010). 38 National Conference of State Legislatures, State Policies on Criminal Background Checks for Medicaid-Supported In-Home Direct Care Workers (December 18, 2008). 39 See appendix XII for examples of background check requirements for in-home caregivers in the four states we reviewed. 40 See AARP Public Policy Institute, Safe at Home? 41 Pub. L. No. 111-148, tit. VI, subtit. C, § 6201, 124 Stat. 119, 721. Page 19 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation personal care service providers. As of November 2012, 19 states were participating. The results of this program could provide data on the effectiveness of background checks in preventing elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. 42 State and local authorities in the four states we visited told us current safeguards are not always sufficient to prevent exploitation by those older adults depend on for assistance. Although states are generally responsible for laws and regulations regarding these issues, the OAA directs the federal government to disseminate information about best practices to prevent elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. According to our analysis, there is a role for the federal government to provide more information and guidance to prevent these types of elder financial exploitation. State and Federal Officials Experts and federal, state, and local officials told us that older adults need Called for Greater Focus more information about what constitutes elder financial exploitation in order to know how to avoid it. 43 However, APS and law enforcement on Public Awareness officials told us that it is difficult for them to reach many older adults with this message and that they have little funding to promote public awareness. For example, in one California county officials reported that due to budget cuts, they had lost many positions that involved educating the public about elder financial exploitation. Each of the seven federal agencies we reviewed independently produces and disseminates public information on elder financial exploitation that is tailored to its own mission. For example, SEC produces information to educate investors about fraud prevention, including an investment guide for older adults. FTC publishes information to protect consumers, and AoA disseminates information to help reduce elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. (See table 2 for examples of the types of information provided by each of these agencies.) These seven agencies 42 In addition to criminal background checks, APS agencies in several states maintain a registry of elder abuse offenders that can be used to flag in-home caregivers who might financially exploit older adults. 43 See appendix X for examples of activities undertaken by APS, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania to educate and inform older adults about elder financial exploitation. See appendix XI for examples of these activities undertaken by private organizations. Page 20 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation have also worked together at times to increase public awareness of elder financial exploitation. For example, each year FTC and the Postal Inspection Service collaborate on community presentations during National Consumer Protection Week. Table 2: Selected Public Awareness Efforts of Federal Agencies Related to Elder Financial Exploitation Agency Public Awareness Efforts CFPB Office for Older Americans provides information for the public on its website about how to avoid being exploited. Published a guide for consumers about reverse mortgages. FTC Produces publications, pamphlets, and videos on a range of consumer protection issues, such as telemarketing fraud, and distributes them via its website, the media, and partnering organizations. Piloted a partnership with the AARP Foundation that funds peer counseling for older adults or their relatives who think they have been victimized. Works with AoA’s Senior Medicare Patrols to distribute educational materials to older adults and collect complaints. AoA Distributes an e-newsletter discussing elder abuse, including financial exploitation. Maintains Senior Legal Helplines. Provides elder abuse prevention grants. Collaborates with nonprofit Women’s Center for a Secure Retirement to provide a gateway for financial information for women. Justice Provides grants to states, localities, and nonprofits for elder abuse prevention activities, including education and public awareness campaigns. Provides information through its public websites on how individuals can protect themselves from and report various types of financial fraud. SEC Distributes investor information that may relate to elder financial exploitation via its website, hotline, pamphlets, and regional events. Provides an investment fraud guide for older adults. Produces investor alert bulletins. Works with AARP, FINRA, and state securities regulators on the Outsmarting Investment Fraud campaign. FinCEN Provides the public with information via its website on scams and resources for victims of fraud or identity theft. Postal Inspection Deployed FakeChecks.org Campaign in 2007 to target international fraud schemes that are often directed Service toward older adults. In 2010, sent a postcard containing information about preventing fraud, including elder financial exploitation, to every U.S. household. Participated in AARP Town Hall meeting in 2011. Conducts ongoing fraud prevention messaging on its website. Makes community presentations on how to avoid scams during National Consumer Protection Week each March (with FTC). Source: GAO analysis of agency documents and interviews. Page 21 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation However, although the OAA calls for a coordinated federal elder justice system, 44 which includes educating the public, the seven agencies we reviewed do not conduct these activities as part of a broader coordinated approach. In previous work, we found that agencies can use limited funding more efficiently by coordinating their activities and can strengthen their collaboration by establishing joint strategies. 45 Similar calls for coordination were raised when the EJCC held its first meeting on October 11, 2012, to begin implementing its mandate to coordinate federal elder justice activities and develop national priorities. As EJCC Chairman, the Secretary of HHS stated that combating elder abuse—which includes elder financial exploitation—is an “all-of-government” effort and that federal programs are not organized in a strategic way, which decreases their effectiveness. One expert noted that there is a clear need for a strategic, multi-faceted public awareness campaign on elder abuse. An official from the Financial Services Roundtable 46 added that many agencies are trying to focus on awareness and education, but their efforts appear unorganized and uncoordinated. Difficulty Gaining Expertise, Sustaining Collaboration, and Obtaining Data Hinders States’ Responses to Elder Financial Exploitation 44 42 U.S.C. § 3011(e)(2). 45 See GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices that Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration Among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15, (Washington, D.C.: October 21, 2005). 46 The Financial Services Roundtable is an advocacy group with members from the banking, securities, investment, and insurance sectors. It aims to protect and promote the economic vitality and integrity of its members and the U.S. financial system. Page 22 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Special Knowledge and According to state and local officials we spoke with in four states, Skills Are Needed to effectively investigating and prosecuting elder financial exploitation Respond to Elder Financial requires special skills and knowledge, which APS workers, law enforcement officers, and district attorneys sometimes lack. For example, Exploitation APS officials noted that some case workers have little background or training in investigating financial crimes, and would find it difficult to respond to these cases. Local law enforcement officials also noted that they receive little training on elder financial exploitation and need additional training to build expertise. In addition, we were told that some prosecutors and judges are reluctant to take on cases of suspected elder financial exploitation because of competing priorities and limited resources, a continuing belief that elder financial exploitation is primarily a civil issue, or a view of older adult victims as unreliable witnesses. State and local officials in the four states we reviewed are attempting to increase their expertise. 47 For example, some state and local officials told us they attempt to acquire investigative expertise through formal and on- the-job training, by dedicating units or staff to investigate suspected cases of elder financial exploitation, or by contracting for assistance from certified fraud examiners or other forensic accountants. 48 However, state and local officials also told us that funding constraints limited their ability to build this additional expertise. Moreover, officials and experts told us that in order to more effectively allocate their limited resources, state and local entities would need more information about which practices have proven to be most effective for investigating, as well as preventing, elder financial exploitation. AoA and Justice have developed some resources that could be used to help state and local agencies build expertise in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting elder financial exploitation (see table 3). 47 See appendix X for examples of activities undertaken by APS, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania to build additional expertise. See appendix XI for examples of these activities undertaken by private organizations. 48 Forensic accountants specialize in investigating financial crimes. The Certified Fraud Examiner credential is one professional designation that a forensic accountant may hold. Page 23 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Table 3: Examples of AoA and Justice Resources That Could Be Used to Increase State and Local Expertise about Elder Financial Exploitation Agency Resource AoA National Center on Elder Abuse website has materials on elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. AoA makes formula grants to states and territories under Title VII of the Older Americans Act that are used to fund a training. National Adult Protective Services Resource Center provides information and technical assistance aimed at APS professionals. National Legal Resource Center provides training and information on legal issues affecting older adults. Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems demonstration program includes two elder abuse projects that focus on elder financial exploitation. Justice Funding the development of APS elder abuse training modules. Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, Office for Victims of Crime, and Bureau of Justice Assistance fund a number of trainings—including some material devoted to elder financial exploitation—to law enforcement and others in the field each year. Prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section have provided training at national conferences on elder fraud. Created an elder financial exploitation guide for police officers. Plans to fund the development of online training for legal aid attorneys on identifying and responding to elder abuse, including financial exploitation. Developing strategies and best practices for financial fraud and identity theft investigations. Source: GAO analysis of HHS and Justice materials and interviews. a 42 U.S.C. §§ 3058b and 3058i. Under the EJA, HHS is authorized to develop and disseminate best practices and provide training for APS workers, 49 and AoA-supported resource centers compile information about elder abuse in general for easy access. However, information pertaining specifically to elder financial exploitation topics—such as mass marketing fraud, power of attorney abuse, or investment fraud—may be dated or more difficult to find because it is intermingled with other materials. 50 For example, AoA’s National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has compiled a list of elder abuse training materials from a variety of sources, but we could find no quick and clear way to identify which trainings cover financial exploitation. Additionally, Justice officials told us that it would be beneficial for more training to be available to prosecutors of elder abuse. Justice has identified providing training and resources to combat elder abuse as a 49 § 2042(a)(1)(C), 124 Stat. 794, 1397m-1(a)(1)(C). 50 See appendix XIII for more information on AoA resource centers. Page 24 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation strategy to achieve its objective of preventing and intervening in crimes against vulnerable populations. Justice officials indicated that they are developing an elder justice prosecution website that could serve as a resource and help build expertise. The website is expected to consolidate training materials in use across the country, primary litigation materials from local district attorneys, and information from relevant academic centers, such as the University of California at Irvine and Stanford University. However, it is unclear when this project will be completed, as Justice officials are waiting for materials from local district attorneys. As a result, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials currently do not have access to these materials. States Identified Additional Federal Support Needed to Sustain Crucial Collaborations across Systems and Levels of Government Collaboration between APS The OAA requires AoA to develop a plan for promoting collaborative and Criminal Justice Systems efforts to support elder justice programs at all levels. 51 Officials we met from state and local social service and criminal justice agencies in three of the four states we reviewed said that while collaboration between their systems is important for combating elder financial exploitation, collaborating can sometimes be difficult because the two systems differ in the way they respond to exploitation and carry out their work. Specifically, APS focuses on protecting and supporting the victim, and criminal justice focuses on prosecuting and convicting exploiters. However, according to experts, by working together, APS, the criminal justice system, and other partners can more easily accomplish both of these goals. 52 Experts have noted that some type of multidisciplinary response to elder abuse— including elder financial exploitation—is prudent because of the complex 51 42 U.S.C. § 3011(e)(2)(a)(ix). 52 See Adria E. Navarro et al., “Holding Abusers Accountable: An Elder Abuse Forensic Center Increases Criminal Prosecution of Financial Exploitation” (funded by Justice), The Gerontologist, vol. 0, (May 15, 2012). This study was funded by Justice. Page 25 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation nature of the problems faced by victims and the wide variety of responses required to help them and to prosecute exploiters. In each of the four states we reviewed, local initiatives helped bridge the gap between APS and criminal justice agencies. 53 In some locations APS, criminal justice agencies, and other public and private entities have formed groups that meet periodically to develop awareness activities, foster information sharing, and discuss and resolve individual cases. Some multidisciplinary groups discuss elder abuse broadly, such as elder abuse task forces in some Pennsylvania counties and multidisciplinary groups in New York City. Others concentrate on financial exploitation specifically, such as the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Task Force, and Financial Abuse Specialist Teams in some California counties. Although multidisciplinary groups responding to elder financial exploitation already exist in each of the four states we visited and elsewhere, forming and sustaining these groups continues to be challenging, according to law enforcement officials in one state we visited and experts. Busy schedules and competing priorities make it difficult for some participants to attend meetings regularly, and a group’s focus influences how extensively members are willing to participate. For example, in one location officials told us that when the primary focus of their group shifted from prosecuting cases to providing services, participation by law enforcement officials declined. Collaborative efforts can also be undermined by a history of poor interaction between member organizations, differences in systemic understanding of elder financial exploitation, difficulties communicating across disciplines, different understandings of limits on information sharing, unclear roles, and failure to address the group’s long-term survival. 54 However, information on relevant promising practices in this area could help promote creation of such groups—particularly when resources are limited—and ensure their success. 53 See appendix X for examples of activities undertaken by APS, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania to support collaboration. See appendix XI for examples of these activities undertaken by private organizations. 54 Brandl et al., Elder Abuse Detection and Intervention (New York: 2007). Page 26 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Federal agencies have made some efforts to promote and inform collaboration between the APS and criminal justice systems in states. However, agencies have taken few steps to compile or disseminate promising practices in creating or sustaining multidisciplinary groups responding to elder financial exploitation, even though the OAA requires AoA to develop and disseminate information on best practices for adult protective services. AoA and Justice have offered a small number of grants to states to combat elder abuse or other crimes that require or encourage collaborative efforts such as multidisciplinary teams (see Table 4). Table 4: Examples of Federal Grants That Encourage Collaboration among State Agencies That Respond to Elder Abuse Agency Grant AoA Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Program: Requires grantees to have a partnership that includes at least the APS and criminal justice systems. AoA expected to award between $625,000 and $1.02 million each to 5-8 grantees in 2012. Elder Justice Community Collaborations: Relatively small ($10,000) grants specifically for setting up elder justice coalitions were awarded to over 40 grantees from 2007 to 2010. Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (OAA Title VII-A3), formula grants to all states and territories that broadly require collaboration between social services and criminal justice systems. Attorneys funded by Title IIIB of the Older Americans Act may work with APS in various situations, including situations dealing with guardianship issues. Funding from AoA’s Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems demonstration grants may be used to support projects that address financial fraud in a collaborative fashion. Justice (Office on Violence Enhanced Training and Services to End Violence Against and Abuse of Women Later in Life Program: Against Women) Requires a partnership of criminal justice agencies, prosecutors, and nonprofits. Source: GAO analysis of HHS and Justice documents and interviews. AoA’s Elder Justice Community Collaborations program offered over 40 $10,000 grants, along with technical assistance and training, from 2007 to 2010 for the purpose of setting up elder justice coalitions. These coalitions, which included members across a broad range of disciplines, were required to create an elder justice strategic plan for their community, including plans for continuation beyond the grant period. This program was the only one we identified that was created specifically for the purpose of setting up new coalitions; other grants either allowed funds to be used for that purpose or required a coalition to be in place to implement the grant-funded initiative. Collaboration on International Interstate or international mass marketing scams include “grandparent and Interstate Financial Crimes scams,” which persuade victims to wire money to bail “grandchildren” out of jail or pay their expenses, and foreign lottery scams that require victims Page 27 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation to pay sizeable sums before they can receive their winnings. 55 In 2011, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center 56 received over 300,000 complaints from victims of all ages about online fraud alone, with reported losses of about $485 million. International Mass Marketing Scam From 2005 to 2009, about 100 older adults wired or mailed millions of dollars to scam artists working out of “boiler rooms” in a Middle Eastern country, in response to a phone call from “an attorney” claiming they had won a lottery or sweepstakes but had to first pay several thousand dollars in “taxes” or “fees” to receive their winnings. The perpetrators used information individuals had provided on sweepstakes entry forms to target older adults with some savings or assets, in particular. Many of the victims, who ranged in age from 70 to 80, suffered from debilitating conditions including Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Once the perpetrators received a payment, they re- contacted victims to inform them that they needed to send more. Victims typically did as they were told, continuing to send tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. To lend legitimacy to this elaborate scheme, victims were sent fake documents that appeared to come from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or another government agency, and received calls from perpetrators impersonating public officials. In addition to losing their life savings, victims of this scam suffered emotional distress and declining health. The FBI was the lead U.S. investigating agency in this case. Six suspects pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office involving wire and mail fraud through telemarketing. Several were sentenced to between 40 and 150 months in prison. Four more have been extradited to the United States and are Local law enforcement authorities in the four states we visited indicated that investigating and prosecuting the growing number of cases involving interstate and international mass marketing fraud, which often target older adults, is particularly difficult for them. For example, coordinating with law enforcement authorities in other jurisdictions is labor intensive, 57 so state 55 Mass-marketing fraud refers generally to any type of fraud scheme that uses one or more mass communication techniques and technologies—such as the Internet, telephones, the mail, and even mass meetings in person—to contact, solicit, and obtain funds or other items of value from multiple victims in one or more jurisdictions. See appendix XIV for an example of a letter promoting a sweepstakes scam. 56 The Internet Crime Complaint Center is an online system that collects complaints of suspected criminal or civil Internet-related violations and develops referrals to law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the federal, state, local, tribal, and international levels. It is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, a nonprofit that supports the investigation and prosecution of economic and high-tech crime. 57 According to the Fraud Section of Justice’s Criminal Division, lottery scam perpetrators are operating from a growing number of countries, including Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and Spain. Page 28 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation and local officials are often unable to pursue these cases themselves. Furthermore, even though various federal agencies have the authority to investigate and prosecute interstate and international scams (see fig. 3), 58 local law enforcement officials told us there is not enough information available on whom they should contact when they need to refer a case to the federal level. They indicated that the lines of communication between local and federal agencies tend to be informal, based on whom local law enforcement officers know in a federal agency. Providing accurate contact information is consistent with Justice’s strategic objective for fiscal years 2012-2016 to strengthen its relationships with state and local law enforcement. Justice officials told us they believe that local officials know which federal officials to contact about international and interstate cases, but state and local law enforcement officials told us that it would be helpful to have more specific information. Cases that local officials do not refer to a federal agency due to a lack of correct contact information may not be investigated or prosecuted by either federal or local authorities. 58 In addition to the work of individual agencies, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force—a broad coalition of more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state and local partners—was created by executive order to (1) investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes and other violations related to the current financial crisis and economic recovery efforts, (2) recover the proceeds of such crimes and violations, and (3) ensure just and effective punishment of those who perpetrate such crimes and violations. Exec. Order No. 13,519, 74 Fed. Reg. 60,123 (Nov. 19, 2009). The Consumer Protection Working Group formed under the Task Force in early 2012 focuses on strengthening the government’s collective efforts to address consumer-related scams targeting vulnerable populations. Page 29 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Figure 3: Federal Agencies’ Responsibilities in Combating International and Interstate Financial Crimes a U.S. Attorneys also participate in the investigation of cases, either alone or in cooperation with other agencies. In addition to not knowing whom to contact, state and local law enforcement officials in the four states we reviewed told us that they are concerned that federal agencies do not take enough of the cases that are referred to them. For example, a law enforcement official from California described a case of widespread interstate check fraud, expressing frustration with federal agencies that would not provide any support when he requested it. Federal officials, on the other hand, told us that they cannot take all cases referred to them by state and local law enforcement and that they must prioritize their caseload to make the best use of their limited resources. Justice and FTC officials said they tend to focus on larger cases in which many victims were affected or a significant amount Page 30 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation of money was lost, and Justice’s U.S. Attorneys also apply regional priorities, such as the vulnerability (including age) of the victim, when determining which cases to take. Even if federal agencies choose not to take a case a state or local agency refers to them, officials told us that consistent referrals of cases by state and local authorities allow them to identify patterns or combine several complaints against the same individual into one case. FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database (Consumer Sentinel) collects consumer complaint data and aims to be an information-sharing tool to enable state and local law enforcement to become more effective. 59 Justice officials said they encourage individuals and state and local authorities to file a complaint of suspected fraud to either the Consumer Sentinel or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. However, while some state Attorneys General were familiar with the FTC database, local law enforcement officials we spoke with did not say that they reported cases to it or used its data. One official said he did not find the Consumer Sentinel database useful because law enforcement officials are not familiar with it. FTC officials explained that while they have made attempts to get state- level offices to contribute to the Consumer Sentinel, barriers such as reservations about data sharing, obsolete technological infrastructure, and severe budgetary cutbacks have kept the numbers of contributors low. When state officials do not contribute to the Consumer Sentinel, the information in the database does not give a national picture of the extent of cross-border scams. As a result of this—in addition to the impact of some law enforcement officials not using the system—it may be more difficult to combat these scams, and officials at all levels may not have the information they need to target their resources appropriately. Working Cooperatively with According to state and local officials, banks are important partners in Banks combating elder financial exploitation because they are well-positioned to recognize, report, and provide evidence in these cases. Indeed, frontline bank staff are able to observe elder financial exploitation firsthand. For 59 FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network is an online database that houses millions of consumer complaints available to law enforcement. Sentinel’s roster of 28 current data contributors includes 12 state attorneys general, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. More than 2,600 users from over 2,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide use the system to share information, prosecute cases, conduct investigations, and pursue leads. Page 31 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation example, a bank teller who sees an older adult regularly is likely to notice if that individual is accompanied by someone new and seems pressured to withdraw money or if the older adult suddenly begins to wire large sums of money internationally. There are state efforts and bank policies to help bank employees recognize exploitation. In Illinois, all state-chartered banks are required to train their employees on what constitutes elder financial exploitation. 60 State and local agencies in California and Pennsylvania provide information and training to banks to help them recognize elder financial exploitation. Most of the six banks we spoke with had a policy for periodically training employees on identifying elder financial exploitation. In addition, these banks had a system in place that routinely monitors bank transactions for unusual activity and can help identify exploitation. Banks may also help report suspected elder financial exploitation to local authorities. Training initiatives, such as Illinois’ program, encourage bank employees to report exploitation. Most of the six banks we spoke with had procedures in place for frontline employees to report suspected elder financial exploitation to bank management. Some of these banks also had internal units that are dedicated to receiving staff reports of elder financial exploitation and referring them to the proper authorities. Notwithstanding such efforts, APS and criminal justice officials told us elder financial exploitation is generally underreported by banks. 61 Despite the training they receive, bank staff may not be aware of the signs of elder financial exploitation or know how to report it. In addition, in five of the six prosecuted cases we reviewed in depth, there were missed opportunities for banks to raise questions about transactions. For example, in one case, bank officials did not take any action in response to repeated withdrawals of large amounts of money that were not typical for 60 The Illinois Department on Aging designed and administered the training protocol and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation certifies compliance with the training requirement. 61 Most states require some classes of professionals or organizations to report suspected elder abuse, which may include financial exploitation of older individuals, to state authorities. Some states, including California—a state we contacted—specifically include banks as mandatory reporters. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15630.1 (2012). Some states immunize individuals who make such reports in good faith from civil and/or criminal liability under state law. Page 32 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation that customer. Bank officials said they do report suspected elder financial exploitation, but also emphasized that banks are not law enforcement agencies. Officials said their primary responsibility is to protect customer assets and privacy and ensure customers have access to their funds. In addition, a banking association representative told us that even though federal privacy laws do not prohibit banks from reporting suspected abuse, banks are concerned that they will be held liable if they report suspected exploitation that is not later substantiated. Three federal agencies—CFPB, AoA, and FinCEN—are positioned to encourage banks to identify and report elder financial exploitation, either due to the agency’s mission or via proposed or existing activities. The CFPB is the primary federal consumer protection regulator with respect to a variety of financial institutions, including banks. The Dodd-Frank Act authorizes the CFPB to protect consumers, including older adults, from abusive practices committed in connection with the offering or provision of consumer financial products or services. 62 In a November 2011 congressional testimony, the Assistant Director of CFPB’s Office for Older Americans said the agency has a unique opportunity to help enhance, coordinate, and promote efforts of a variety of groups, including financial services providers. 63 While the federal government generally requires banks to train employees on a variety of issues, such as money laundering, physical bank security, and information security, 64 we could find no similar requirements for banks to train employees to recognize and report elder financial exploitation. However, AoA is considering collaborating with one large national bank on a project to encourage bank training on elder financial exploitation. Banks are also required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) with FinCEN to alert them of potentially illegal bank transactions that involve, individually or in the aggregate, at least $5,000, which could include elder 62 § 1031, 124 Stat. 1979-80 (12 U.S.C. § 5531). 63 Testimony before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Washington, D.C., November 15, 2011). 64 31 U.S.C. § 5318(h)(1)(C), 12 C.F.R. § 21.3(a)(3), and pt. 30, app. B (2012). Page 33 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation financial exploitation. 65 In February 2011, FinCEN issued an advisory to banks that described elder financial exploitation, provided potential indicators of elder financial exploitation, and requested the use of a specific term (“elder financial exploitation”) when applicable in SAR narratives related to this activity. 66 Bank records can help investigators track an older adult’s use of funds over time and detect irregularities. APS officials in Pennsylvania told us that although Pennsylvania state law grants APS access to bank records, they are often denied access on the basis of federal privacy laws or the bank’s policies. APS officials from California, Illinois, and New York also reported that they are denied access to bank records for the same reasons. 67 As a result, investigators are unable to obtain the information necessary to investigate suspected exploitation, identify perpetrators, stop further exploitation from occurring, or obtain restitution for victims. Bank officials told us the federal government could help clarify bank roles and responsibilities related to privacy and financial exploitation of older adults. 68 There are two federal laws that generally protect the privacy of consumer banking records: the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 (RFPA) 69 and 65 31 C.F.R. § 1020.320(a) (2012). If a financial institution knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect, for example, that transactions have no business or apparent lawful purpose or are not the sort in which a particular customer would normally be expected to engage, and the financial institution knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining the available facts, including the background and possible purpose of the transaction, the financial institution must file a SAR. 66 FinCEN stores SARs in a database and each state has a law enforcement point-of- contact with access to the database. Local police and district attorneys rely on their state’s FinCEN point-of-contact to obtain SAR information. While SARs could contain leads on elder financial exploitation cases, local officials we spoke with said they did not use SARs often to build criminal cases and SARs are not a vehicle for fast action. 67 Local criminal justice agencies said that they are able to obtain bank records with a subpoena or search warrant, but banks sometimes take a long time to provide the records. This, in turn, extends already time-intensive investigations. 68 The American Bar Association completed a report on this issue and concluded that federal privacy laws do not prohibit banks from sharing information in suspected cases of elder financial exploitation. American Bar Association, Can Bank Tellers Tell? Legal Issues Relating to Banks Reporting Financial Abuse of the Elderly (2003). 69 Pub. L. No. 95-630, tit. XI, 92 Stat. 3641, 3697-3710 (codified as amended at 12 U.S.C. §§ 3401-3422). Page 34 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. 70 Each establishes standards that banks must meet to safeguard customer banking information. The RFPA generally prohibits financial institutions, including banks, from providing any federal governmental authority with access to copies of information in any customer’s records without first providing notice to the customer. Because a government authority is defined in RFPA to include only federal agencies and officials, however, it should not prevent banks from reporting possible financial exploitation of older adults—or providing bank records to—state APS. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act generally prohibits financial institutions, including banks, from disclosing nonpublic personal information to third parties including, but not limited to, federal governmental authorities. Nonetheless, the act has a number of general exceptions permitting disclosure, such as: to protect against or prevent actual or potential fraud, unauthorized transactions, claims, or other liability; consistent with the RFPA, for an investigation on a matter related to public safety; or to comply with a properly authorized civil, criminal, or regulatory investigation, subpoena, or summons by federal, state, or local authorities. Incomplete Data Hinder The NCEA and experts have called for more data on the cost of elder Efforts to Combat Elder financial exploitation to public programs and for trend data on its extent. Financial Exploitation According to our analysis, these data could help determine what government resources to allocate and how best to prevent and respond to this problem. According to one Utah official, quantifying the impact of elder financial exploitation in that state helped that state’s legislators understand the importance of combating this problem and convinced them to simply decrease, rather than eliminate, state APS funding altogether. 71 However, according to our analysis, no other state has undertaken such a study. Similarly, data on the extent of elder financial exploitation over time could help state and local APS, as well as law enforcement agencies, assess 70 Pub. L. No. 106-102, §§ 501-510, 113 Stat. 1338, 1436-1445 (codified as amended at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6801-6809). 71 See Gunther, “The 2010 Utah Cost of Financial Exploitation.” Page 35 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation the effectiveness of their efforts to combat it. The OAA 72 and EJA both require the federal government to take steps to collect and disseminate data on all types of elder abuse, 73 yet the studies federal agencies have funded in this area have produced little data on its extent over time, as we previously reported, 74 or on its cost. Several federal agencies do collect administrative data on the number of complaints submitted by consumers or criminal cases that sometimes involve elder financial exploitation (see table 5)—data that could help state and local APS and law enforcement authorities determine what resources to allocate and how best to prevent and respond to this problem. Each agency publishes material containing a range of administrative data from its system that is available to the public. FTC, for example, publishes statistics from the Consumer Sentinel on the number and types of complaints, amount of losses, and characteristics of victims. 75 Table 5: Federal Administrative Data Systems That Collect Incidents of Elder Financial Exploitation Data System/Agency Information Collected Identifies Age of Victim? Contributors FTC’s Consumer Information on consumer complaints, Optional. Less than half of Some state and local law Sentinel Network including investment and mass marketing complaints currently include enforcement agencies, federal fraud, and identity theft. The FTC adds cases age. agencies, nongovernmental from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint and private entities, and Center to the Consumer Sentinel. individuals. FinCEN’s SAR Data Information on suspicious financial Option to identify suspected Banks and other financial a transactions, both actual and attempted. elder financial exploitation institutions. and age of victim. FBI’s Internet Crime Complaints about cyber-crime, including Age is a required field. State and local law Complaint Center online fraud. enforcement agencies, as well as individuals. Justice’s National Each single incident of and arrest for 46 Age is a required field for State and local law Incident-Based crimes collected from state, local, and federal individual victims. enforcement agencies. Reporting System law enforcement agencies that participate in the system. 72 42 U.S.C. § 3012(e)(2)(A)(iii) and (iv), and (16). 73 § 2042(a)(1)(B), 124 Stat. 794 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 1397m-1(a)(1)(B)). 74 See GAO-11-208. 75 FTC (2012) Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January - December 2011. Page 36 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Data System/Agency Information Collected Identifies Age of Victim? Contributors SEC’s Tips, Complaints about investments or financial Information about age is All sources, including individual Complaints, and professionals. not required. investors. Referrals Portal Source: GAO analysis of documents provided and interviews granted by FTC, FinCEN, Justice, and SEC. a In 2012, FinCEN released a revised SAR that includes a check box that enables filers to indicate clearly that they are reporting suspected elder financial exploitation. The revised SAR is currently available for use, and will become mandatory at the end of March 2013, according to FinCEN officials. While the number of reported incidents of elder financial exploitation in each agency’s system represents only a portion of all cases that actually occur in a given period and geographic area, the number over time could provide an indication of fluctuations in the extent of certain types of elder financial exploitation. Data from the Consumer Sentinel could be of particular interest to state and local APS and law enforcement authorities, because over half of the consumer complaints reported to this system involve financial exploitation through fraud. Individual complaints can be directly reported to the Consumer Sentinel by victims or others on their behalf. Cases reported to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and non-governmental organizations, such as the Council of Better Business Bureaus, are also added to the complaints in the Consumer Sentinel. Currently, however, the Consumer Sentinel does not receive any of the complaints reported to any of the law enforcement or consumer protection agencies in 38 states. Moreover, less than half the complaints in the Consumer Sentinel contain the age of the victim because FTC does not require complaints to include this information or other indicators of whether the case involved elder financial exploitation. 76 FTC officials told us the agency does not require complaints to include the age of the victim because of concerns regarding privacy and the potential burden this might place on individual complainants. In contrast, SARs in the FinCEN system will soon all be clearly identified when a filing institution reports suspected elder financial exploitation. In 2011, we found that state-level APS data could provide useful information on the extent of elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation, over time. We recommended that AoA work with states to 76 See appendix XV for additional information on the data in the Consumer Sentinel Network. Page 37 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation develop a nationwide system to collect and compile these data. 77 AoA officials told us they have initiated discussions with states about establishing such a system, but have been unable to develop a comprehensive plan for implementing one due to a lack of funding. Elder financial exploitation is a multi-faceted problem spanning social Conclusions service, criminal justice and consumer protection systems of government. As a result, combating it is challenging and requires action on the part of not only many state and local agencies, but also multiple agencies at the federal level. Each of the seven federal agencies we reviewed is working to solve this problem in ways that are consistent with its own mission. However, the problem is large and growing. It calls for a more cohesive and deliberate approach governmentwide that, at a minimum, identifies gaps in efforts nationwide, ensures that federal resources are effectively allocated, establishes federal agency responsibilities, and holds agencies accountable for meeting them. The EJCC has recognized that combating elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation, is an effort that requires federal agencies to work together. A clearly articulated national strategy is needed to coordinate and optimize such federal efforts to effectively prevent and respond to elder financial exploitation, and the EJCC can be the vehicle for defining and implementing this strategy. In the current economic climate, state and local APS and law enforcement agencies will find it increasingly difficult to cope with growing numbers of cases without a national strategy attuned to their need for information and guidance on preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation, as well as additional data on its extent and impact. In addition to working together to build a national strategy to combat elder financial exploitation, there are a number of ways individual federal agencies could better support state and local APS and law enforcement agencies. For example, Justice has identified providing training and resources to combat elder abuse as a strategy to achieve its objectives of preventing and intervening in crimes against vulnerable populations. Without easily accessible information and guidance tailored to the needs of prosecutors nationwide, they may continue, given limited resources, to 77 See GAO-11-208. Page 38 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation make such cases a low priority. Similarly, many cases cross jurisdictions and could involve multiple victims or have perpetrators located in other countries. These cases may not be investigated or prosecuted unless state and local law enforcement have better information on the process for contacting the federal government regarding these cases or the ways in which the federal government could provide support. Without information to correct banks’ misconceptions about the impact of federal privacy laws on their ability to release bank records, APS and law enforcement agencies will continue to find it difficult to obtain the information they need from banks to investigate suspected cases of elder financial exploitation. Moreover, without educating bank employees nationwide on how to identify and report suspected elder financial exploitation, many cases will continue to go unreported, uninvestigated, and unprosecuted. The CPFB is positioned to provide additional information to banks, as part of the agency’s consumer protection regulatory function and dedication to protecting the financial health of older Americans. Finally, to fulfill its mission of protecting consumers against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices, the FTC established the Consumer Sentinel Network database to enhance information-sharing and support law enforcement at all levels. The Consumer Sentinel could serve as a valuable source of data on the extent of some types of elder financial exploitation nationwide and as an important resource for law enforcement authorities as they identify, investigate, and prosecute cases. The Consumer Sentinel’s usefulness in this area, however, will continue to be limited until the number of contributors to it is increased and complaints are required to include the age of the victim or other indicators of whether the case involved elder financial exploitation. In the absence of the latter, it is difficult to determine the number of financial exploitation complaints that involve older adults, which in turn makes any Consumer Sentinel data contributed less useful to state and local APS and law enforcement agencies. To coordinate and optimize federal efforts to prevent and respond to elder Recommendations for financial exploitation, we recommend the Secretary of HHS, as chairman Executive Action of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, direct the Council to develop a written national strategy for combating this problem. This strategy should include a clear statement of its purpose and goals and indicate the roles and responsibilities particular federal agencies should have in Page 39 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation implementing it. The strategy could address, among other things, the need to • identify and disseminate promising practices and other information nationwide that can be used by state and local agencies to prevent exploitation, educate the public, and help state and local agencies collaborate, investigate, and prosecute elder financial exploitation; • ensure coordination of public awareness activities across federal agencies; and • collect and disseminate better data nationwide to inform federal, state, and local decisions regarding prevention of and response to elder financial exploitation. To develop expertise among prosecutors and other criminal justice officials, we recommend the Attorney General establish timeframes for and take the steps necessary to launch the elder justice prosecution website that Justice has begun to construct. To facilitate investigation and prosecution of interstate and international elder financial exploitation, we recommend the Attorney General conduct outreach to state and local law enforcement agencies to clarify the process for contacting the federal government regarding these cases and the ways in which the federal government could provide support. To encourage banks to identify and report suspected elder financial exploitation and to facilitate release of bank records to APS and law enforcement authorities for investigating this activity, we recommend the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau • develop a plan to educate banks nationwide on how to identify and report possible elder financial exploitation; and • develop and disseminate information for banks on the circumstances under which they are permitted, under federal privacy laws, to release relevant bank records to law enforcement and APS agencies. To increase the usefulness of data from the Consumer Sentinel Network database for federal, state, and local investigation and prosecution of elder financial exploitation, we recommend the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission: Page 40 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation • take additional steps to encourage more state and local law enforcement authorities nationwide to report to the Consumer Sentinel relevant individual complaints they receive of elder financial exploitation and to encourage and enable these authorities to query the system; and • study the feasibility of requiring that all complaints to the Consumer Sentinel include either the victim’s age or an indication of whether the complaint involves elder financial exploitation We provided a draft of this report to the seven federal agencies that we Response to Agency reviewed for their comments. CFPB concurred with our recommendations Comments and agreed that a collaborative and coordinated effort by federal agencies can help optimize strategies to combat elder financial exploitation (see appendix XVI). CFPB further noted that financial institutions can play a key role in preventing and detecting elder financial exploitation, and that CFPB is collecting information on financial institution training programs and considering how best to help institutions that request this information. HHS indicated in its general comments that our recommendations are consistent with what it heard during the inaugural meeting of the EJCC, and added that it looks forward to working with Congress to continue implementing the EJA (see appendix XVII). In an e-mailed response, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection noted that the Consumer Sentinel database provides law enforcement with access to millions of consumer complaints. FTC added that the database has no required fields, and expressed its belief that if consumers were required to provide detailed personal information as a condition to filing a complaint, they might refuse to do so, thereby decreasing the overall effectiveness of the system. FTC explained that almost 48 percent of all fraud complaints in 2011 included the voluntary submission of age, and that nearly half of its non-individual data contributors do not submit age information in the data they provide to FTC. Given the potential for the Consumer Sentinel database to support and enhance state and local law enforcement agencies’ response to elder financial exploitation, particularly interstate and international cases, we continue to believe that FTC should study the feasibility of requiring that all complaints to the Consumer Sentinel database include the victim’s age or another indicator of whether the complaint involves elder financial exploitation. In doing so, FTC can examine different options, including the use of a check box similar to the one that FinCEN has included in its SARs. Page 41 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation We are sending copies of this report to the seven agencies we reviewed, relevant congressional committees, and other interested parties. We will also make copies available to others upon request. The report is available at no charge on GAO’s website at http://www.gao.gov. If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact me at (202) 512-7215 or email@example.com. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made key contributions to this report are listed in appendix XVIII. Kay E. Brown, Director Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues Page 42 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation List of Requesters The Honorable Herb Kohl Chairman Special Committee on Aging United States Senate The Honorable Bernard Sanders Chairman Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions United States Senate The Honorable Richard Blumenthal United States Senate The Honorable Jeff Merkley United States Senate The Honorable Bill Nelson United States Senate The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse United States Senate Page 43 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix I: Administration on Aging Administration on Aging (HHS)1 Mission Relevant agency divisions To develop a comprehensive, Assistant Secretary for Aging: Assists the Secretary with activities that coordinated, and cost-effective address challenges and opportunities for older adults system of home- and community- based services that helps elderly Office of Elder Rights: Administers the provisions of the Older individuals maintain their health Americans Act related to elder abuse prevention and independence. How agency prioritizes Selected activities elder financial exploitation • Funds and oversees the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA; Strategic goal of ensuring the rights www.ncea.aoa.gov), a national resource center dedicated to of older people and preventing their preventing elder abuse abuse, neglect, and exploitation. • Funded the National Adult Protective Services Resource Center, Agency’s role in combating which provides information and technical assistance to APS officials elder financial exploitation • Provides formula grants to State Units on Aging in each state to The Older Americans Act prevent elder abuse Amendments of 1965 calls for AoA • Provides funds to local legal services providers, which may use the to develop objectives, priorities, funds to assist elder financial exploitation victims policy, and a long-term plan for facilitating the development of a • AoA’s Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems coordinated, multidisciplinary elder program funds demonstration grants, which aim to strengthen states’ justice system in the United States legal services networks, may be used to support projects that address The Elder Justice Act of 2009 elder financial exploitation (EJA) calls for HHS to, among other things: Coordination with other agencies • collect and disseminate data related to exploitation, • Works with state aging agencies to help them develop statewide plans to combat elder abuse • conduct research on and develop information on best • Through NCEA, partnered with Treasury on its Go Direct financial practices for Adult Protective literacy campaign Services (APS), • Partnered with Treasury and the Financial Services Roundtable on a • provide technical assistance to toolkit for training financial institutions on elder financial exploitation APS, and • Worked with the SEC on several Seniors Summits that brought • establish centers to conduct agencies together to discuss elder financial exploitation research, develop expertise, • Chairs the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, a collaborative body of and improve law enforcement’s federal agencies created under the EJA to recommend federal policies ability to combat elder financial exploitation to combat elder abuse and ways federal agencies should coordinate to implement these policies. Contact information • Co-leads an informal interagency workgroup that helps facilitate Call: (202) 619-0724 federal elder justice activities. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: GAO analysis of AoA documents and interviews. 1 On April 16, 2012, AoA became part of the Administration for Community Living, which also includes HHS’s Office on Disability and Administration on Developmental Disabilities. Page 44 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix II: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mission Organization To implement and enforce federal consumer financial law consistently for the purpose of ensuring that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services and that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive How agency prioritizes elder financial exploitation Agency’s organizing statute requires emphasis on older Americans and protecting them from financial exploitation Agency’s role in combating elder financial exploitation Leadership: Office for Older Americans is the first federal office Selected activities dedicated to the financial health of • Posts information for older adults on website older Americans • Conducts research on issues affecting older Americans, such as Information dissemination: reverse mortgages, financial advisors and their credentials, and Provides information to consumers fiduciaries and to others who assist them in • Gathering information from the public on elder financial exploitation to combating elder financial exploitation learn more about the ways in which older adults are financially exploited and best practices for elder financial management. CFPB Supervision and Enforcement: expects to share its results in 2013. Supervises certain banks and nonbanks and brings enforcement actions when appropriate Coordination with other agencies Rulemaking: Issues rules, orders, • Member of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council and guidance • Member of Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and Contact information prosecute financial crime Call: (855) 411-2372 • Works with AoA, Justice, Department of Labor, and SEC on various General Information: projects related to protecting older Americans www.consumerfinance.gov Source: GAO analysis of CFPB documents and interviews. Page 45 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix III: Federal Trade Commission Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Mission Relevant agency divisions To prevent business practices that Bureau of Consumer Protection: Works to protect consumers against are anticompetitive, deceptive, or unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. The Bureau unfair to consumers; to enhance conducts investigations, sues companies and people who violate the law, informed consumer choice and develops rules to protect consumers, and educates consumers and public understanding of the businesses about their rights and responsibilities. The Bureau also competitive process; and to collects complaints about consumer fraud and identity theft and makes accomplish this without unduly them available to law enforcement agencies across the country. burdening legitimate business activity • The Divisions of Advertising Practices, Enforcement, Financial Practices, Marketing Practices, and Privacy and Identity Protection, and FTC Regional Offices are involved to some extent in How agency prioritizes the Bureau’s elder financial exploitation activities. elder financial exploitation • The Division of Consumer and Business Education’s mission is to FTC identifies older adults as a give consumers the tools they need to make informed decisions and to target population for its consumer give businesses the tools they need to comply with law. The Division education efforts. Elder financial exploitation is included as part of produces, promotes, and disseminates information that is timely, the Bureau of Consumer targeted, objective, actionable, and in plain language. Protection’s responsibility to protect all consumers. Selected activities • The Enforcement Division, as part of its overall mission, has dedicated Agency’s role in combating resources to investigating misrepresentations aimed at the “oldest old” elder financial exploitation and their caretakers. In 2012, the Division settled two administrative Legal action: Investigates and cases with companies that misrepresented the services they provide prosecutes large-scale fraud cases when referring seniors to long-term care facilities. Information dissemination: • In April 2012, the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection gathered Provides educational materials to information on the types of senior identity theft, how it happens, and consumers possible solutions. Data collection: FTC’s Consumer • FTC actively prosecutes fraudulent telemarketers, online and direct Sentinel database stores individual mail merchants engaged in a wide variety of deceptive scams. fraud complaints; other federal, state, and local agencies use and Coordination with other agencies submit information to the database • Member of Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and prosecute financial crime Contact information • May work with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to investigate cases and bring enforcement actions against 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) scammers General information: • Hosts Common Ground Conferences that bring federal, state, local www.ftc.gov agencies and non-profit organizations together to share information on To submit a complaint online: scams www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ Source: GAO analysis of FTC documents and interviews. Page 46 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix IV: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Mission Organization To enhance the integrity of financial systems by facilitating the detection and deterrence of financial crime How agency prioritizes elder financial exploitation FinCEN does not specifically identify protecting older adults in its agency priorities; however, it recently released a new Suspicious Activity Report form that enables financial institutions specifically to identify suspected elder financial exploitation Agency’s role in combating Selected activities elder financial exploitation • Provides analytical support to law enforcement investigations and Law enforcement: FinCEN supports financial criminal access to Suspicious Activity Reports collected from financial investigations, most often those institutions under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 involving money laundering • Regulates financial institutions, requiring them to have anti-money Data collection: FinCEN laundering programs and to report suspicious activity, including elder aggregates data reported by financial exploitation financial institutions on suspicious • Issued advisory to financial institutions with information about how to activity reports, including reports of identify and report elder financial exploitation suspected elder financial exploitation Rulemaking: FinCEN can issue Coordination with other agencies rules and regulations implementing • Member of Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970a numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and (anti-money laundering), as prosecute financial crime amended by the USA PATRIOT Actb Contact information Regulatory Helpline : (800) 949-2732 General information: a Pub. L. No. 91-508, 84 Stat. 1114 (codified as amended at 12 U.S.C. §§ 1829(b), 1951-1959; 31 http://www.fincen.gov U.S.C. §§ 5311-5330). b The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Source: GAO analysis of FinCEN documents and interviews. Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat 272 (2001). We refer to this act as the USA PATRIOT Act. Page 47 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix V: Department of Justice Department of Justice Mission Organization To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans How agency prioritizes elder financial exploitation Priority goal of protecting vulnerable populations, including the elderly Agency’s role in combating elder financial exploitation Assistance to victims: Provided as part of the Victims of Crime Act Crime Victims Fund and Violence Against Women Act of 1994, as amended Research, technical assistance, Selected activities and training: Funds research in • Prosecutes perpetrators of elder financial exploitation the field of elder abuse and technical assistance and training to • Conducts public awareness activities on elder financial exploitation those in the field • Office on Violence Against Women and Office for Victims of Crime Law enforcement: Investigates both provide grants for training that includes elder financial exploitation fraud crimes and makes arrests • Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice both fund Legal action: Prosecutes fraud or conduct studies on elder financial exploitation cases • See FBI and U.S. Attorney pages for details on those agencies Contact information Coordination with other agencies Main number: 202-514-2000 • Mandated member of Elder Justice Coordinating Council On the web: • Member of Elder Justice Working Group www.justice.gov • Coordinates the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which Source: GAO analysis of Justice documents and interviews. brings numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and prosecute financial crime Page 48 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix VI: Federal Bureau of Investigation Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Mission Organization To protect and defend the United 56 field offices located in major metropolitan areas and in Puerto Rico, as States against terrorist and foreign well as legal attaches in U.S. embassies around the world intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States; and to provide Selected activities leadership and criminal justice • Responds to complaints from victims of crime services to federal, state, municipal, and international • Investigates selected cases of potential elder financial exploitation. agencies and partners • Internet Crime Complaint Center receives complaints about internet- related crime and shares them with the Federal Trade Commission How agency prioritizes (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network database and federal, state, and local law enforcement offices as appropriate elder financial exploitation Priority goal of combating • Conducts outreach about elder financial exploitation to local entities financial/white collar crime. Mass such as nursing homes and financial institutions marketing fraud, which may include elder financial exploitation, ranks Coordination with other agencies fourth among the FBI’s financial crime priorities • Works with local U.S. Attorneys’ offices to make determinations about whether to open or continue investigations of potential elder financial exploitation cases Agency’s role in combating elder financial exploitation • Works with other federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to conduct investigations Law enforcement: Investigates fraud crimes and makes arrests • May work jointly with foreign law enforcement agencies to investigate international mass marketing fraud cases Contact information • Coordinates with the National White Collar Crime Center to run the Main number: Internet Crime Complaint Center (see above) 202-324-3000 • Maintains Memorandum of Understanding with the FTC to get access On the web: to FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database www.fbi.gov • Participates in regional task forces on financial crime To find your field office: • Member of Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and prosecute financial crime Source: GAO analysis of FBI documents and interviews. Page 49 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix VII: U.S. Attorneys Department of Justice U.S. Attorneys Mission Organization As the nation’s principal litigators, 94 offices across the country and in U.S. territories U.S. Attorneys prosecute criminal cases brought by the federal government; prosecute and defend Selected activities civil cases in which the United • Prosecutes perpetrators of elder financial exploitation States is a party; and collect certain debts owed to the federal • Provides assistance to elder financial exploitation victims government Coordination with other agencies How agency prioritizes • May receive cases from other federal agencies, such as the FBI, the elder financial exploitation Postal Inspectors, and the SEC, as well as from state and local Each U.S. Attorney exercises wide agencies discretion in determining which • May pursue cases in conjunction with partner agencies cases to pursue to best use the office’s resources to further the • Participates in regional task forces on financial crime priorities and needs of their • Member of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings jurisdiction. Offices may prioritize numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and investment and securities fraud prosecute financial crime Agency’s role in combating elder financial exploitation Law enforcement: Investigates fraud crimes and makes arrests Legal action: Prosecutes fraud cases Contact information On the web: www.justice.gov/usao To find your field office: http://www.justice.gov/usao/about/ offices.html Source: GAO analysis of Justice documents and interviews. Page 50 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix VIII: U.S. Postal Inspection Service United States Postal Inspection Service Mission Organization To support and protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail How agency prioritizes elder financial exploitation The Postal Inspection Service does not specifically identify protecting Selected activities older adults in its agency priorities; • 2010 mass mailing to every U.S. household on fraud, including elder however, older adults are often financial exploitation victimized in the mail fraud schemes it investigates • Community presentations about scams during National Consumer Protection Week • Participates in community discussions about mail fraud, such as an Agency’s role in combating AARP Town Hall meeting and a panel discussion hosted by Stanford elder financial exploitation Research Center on the Prevention of Financial Fraud Law enforcement: Investigates mail fraud crimes and makes • Plans to have a campaign in 2013 on preventing fraudulent lottery arrests and has administrative schemes, focusing on older adults authority to shut down addresses used for fraud Coordination with other agencies Information dissemination: • Member of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council Provides information to the public about mail fraud • Member of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and Data collection: Tracks data on its prosecute financial crime cases, mines data for trends, and shares this data with FTC’s • Collaborates with Canadian and Jamaican criminal justice systems on Consumer Sentinel Network international fraud database • Collaborates with FTC on National Consumer Protection Week Contact information Main number: 1-877-876-2445 On the web: postalinspectors.uspis.gov Source: GAO analysis of agency documents and interviews. Page 51 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix IX: Securities and Exchange Commission Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mission Relevant agency divisions To protect investors; maintain fair, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy: Carries out SEC’s investor orderly, and efficient markets; and education program; responds to questions and complaints from members facilitate capital formation of the public; and reviews agency rulemaking from the perspective of the individual investor How agency prioritizes Division of Enforcement: Conducts investigations into possible violations elder financial exploitation of the federal securities laws, and prosecutes cases in civil suits in the SEC does not specifically identify federal courts, and in administrative proceedings before an administrative elder financial exploitation as a law judge priority, but it does identify older Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations: Administers the adults as a target population for its SEC’s nationwide examination and inspection program and conducts investor education, enforcement, inspections to foster compliance with securities laws and to detect and industry-compliance related violations of the laws efforts Division of Trading and Markets: Assists the Commission in executing its responsibility for maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, Agency’s role in combating including day-to-day oversight of major securities market participants elder financial exploitation Supervision of investment professionals: Conducts exams Selected activities and inspections of investment • Published A Guide for Seniors: Protect Yourself Against Investment professionals, such as broker- Fraud dealers, investment companies, and investment advisors • Produced reports on free lunch seminars and promising practices that businesses can undertake to prevent and detect fraud against older Legal action: Conducts adults investigations and prosecutes violations of the federal securities • Maintains a website that allows investors are able to research laws investment advisor firms, and provides a link to a similar website for brokers on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) Information dissemination: website Provides educational materials to investors • Issues approximately 25 investor alerts and bulletins per year Rulemaking: Establishes rules on • Works with FINRA, AARP, and state securities regulators on the matters affecting the operations of Outsmarting Investment Fraud campaign, which is designed to reduce securities markets investment fraud among older adults Contact information Coordination with other agencies Investor Information Service: • Member of Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which brings 1-800-SEC-0330 numerous federal agencies together to prevent, investigate, and www.sec.gov prosecute financial crime www.investor.gov • Participates in the multi-agency Financial Literacy and Education Commission, which coordinates federal financial education efforts and developed a national strategy for financial literacy Source: GAO analysis of SEC documents and interviews. Page 52 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Efforts to Provide Exploitation by Financial Information to and Services Providers, Enhance Expertise for Efforts to Foster Power-of-Attorney Efforts to Educate and Professionals Collaboration among Agents, and Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Institutions Responding State Caregivers the General Public Exploitation to Exploitation California Napa County San Bernardino County Institute on Aging San Francisco Elder • Caregiver Ordinance – APS • Houses the San Financial Abuse all in-home caregivers • Scam blasts are sent Francisco Elder Abuse Collaboration must submit to and to senior centers and Forensic Center, which • Participants from pass a background law enforcement works to improve across local check and obtain a agencies to alert older coordination among government and the permit to provide adults of potential those responding to private sector. Goal is services scams. elder abuse cases; to conduct innovative • “It’s not your fault” assists victims; and and comprehensive State Law educates professionals research and to bring publication —campaign • Mandatory elder abuse to reduce elder and the general public stakeholders together reporting for health financial exploitation on preventing, to advocate for care professionals, stigma among older reporting, and stopping improved responses to social workers, nursing adults elder abuse elder financial abuse. home workers, and employees of banks San Joaquin District San Bernardino County San Francisco and credit unions Attorneys Offices APS • Multidisciplinary Teams • Discretionary • Shift change briefings —representatives from Communities Against and pocket guide to the fields of aging, civil background checks for Senior Exploitation— paid in-home elder abuse penal law, adult protective representatives from the codes for local law services, mental health, caregivers District Attorney’s office enforcement social work, law Department of Corporations provide examples of enforcement, and other financial fraud and tips for Center of Excellence on disciplines meet to • Seniors Against personal safety and Elder Abuse and Neglect at Investment Fraud— review complex abuse protecting personal UC Irvine cases and to learn older adults are able to information check the licensing • Central source of about service status of financial San Francisco District technical assistance, resources and services professionals Attorney’s Office multidisciplinary intervention techniques. training, research, and • “Elder Financial Abuse policy issues in CA and San Bernardino County the Invisible Crime” — nationally • Multidisciplinary outreach/public Teams—a variety of awareness campaign Stanford Center for groups exist, and they with posters in different Longevity discuss issues ranging languages urging • Conducts research on from those specific to individuals to report financial fraud and the District Attorney suspected elder older adults population to limited financial abuse to APS capacity. Teams also • Created a financial Department of Corporations fraud research center work on training and In collaboration with the discuss individual • Seniors Against Financial Industry cases. Investment Fraud— alerts and educates Regulatory Authority State Law Californians over the • CA Financial Abuse age of 50 about California District Attorneys Reporting Act— financial and Association employees of banks investment fraud, Page 53 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Efforts to Provide Exploitation by Financial Information to and Services Providers, Enhance Expertise for Efforts to Foster Power-of-Attorney Efforts to Educate and Professionals Collaboration among Agents, and Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Institutions Responding State Caregivers the General Public Exploitation to Exploitation common scams, and • Provides training for and credit unions are unscrupulous sales police investigators required to report practices that suspected financial specifically target San Francisco District elder abuse to APS or seniors Attorney law enforcement • Provides training for authorities Department of Financial CA mandated reporters Institutions Financial Elder Abuse • Website: provides Elder Financial Protection Roundtable information for Network • Consists of consumers on • Events and training for Departments of preventing and financial professionals Corporations, reporting elder financial Insurance, Attorney exploitation,as well as General, and Aging. information for banks The roundtable hears on reporting from local members requirements about issues that are of concern and determines how the state might help. Illinois Department on Aging Department on Aging Department on Aging Department on Aging • Volunteer Money • “Be a Savvy Senior” — • B*SAFE program to • Multidisciplinary Management Program publications designed train bank personnel on Teams— —a protective service to raise older adults’ how to prevent, detect, representatives from for limited income awareness of financial and report financial law enforcement, seniors who need help exploitation and to exploitation medical, legal, clergy, managing their teach them to look for • “Protocol for Law financial, and mental finances the warning signs Enforcement: health sectors consult Responding to Victims on complex cases, State Law Attorney General support case workers, of Elder Abuse, Neglect, • Mandatory elder abuse • Fraud alerts — and Exploitation” and improve reporting for social information on the - provides model networking among services and health most common scams guidelines and group members care professionals perpetrated against investigation seniors Suburban Elder Justice • Power-of-attorney law procedures for law Coalition enhanced to create • “When in Doubt, Check enforcement responding liability for the agent in it Out”—consumer to elder abuse. Protocol • Led by AgeOptions, cases of abuse. If an fraud hotline to learn of was created in suburban Chicago AAA, agent violates the law, any complaints filed collaboration with the the coalition works to they will be required to against a company Illinois Family Violence improve coordination repay what was stolen. before doing business Coordinating Councils and cooperation with them between elder abuse • Mandatory background • “Reporting Elder provider agencies and checks for paid in- • “Every Cent Counts” — Abuse: What law enforcement. home caregivers tips for protecting Professionals Need to finances of senior Know” —pamphlet to Statewide citizens raise awareness about • TRIAD programs—law elder abuse and enforcement officials, Page 54 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Efforts to Provide Exploitation by Financial Information to and Services Providers, Enhance Expertise for Efforts to Foster Power-of-Attorney Efforts to Educate and Professionals Collaboration among Agents, and Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Institutions Responding State Caregivers the General Public Exploitation to Exploitation reporting requirements as well as senior • “Just Hang Up” —to Attorney General community advocates warn seniors about and other community • Elderly Service Officer activists. TRIAD telephone scams Program—40 hours of activities help Cook County Sheriff’s elder abuse training for implement crime Department law enforcement prevention, education officers and volunteer programs • Senior Law Enforcement Academy Department of Financial for older citizens. —trains older adults on and Professional Regulation crime prevention and Department on Aging • Training for state- chartered bank employees—a training was developed to identify the indicators of financial exploitation, as well as how to report. Compliance will be checked for during bank examinations. New York NY APS NYC Department for Aging NY State Office of Children NYC Elder Abuse Center • Financial management • “It’s my Money” game and Family Services, • Goal is to improve —APS receives the created a tool —in Bureau of Adult Services professional, older adult’s monthly collaboration with the • Training on organizational and income, pays their bills, Department of investigating financial system responses to and provides money to Consumer Affairs— exploitation for elder abuse, neglect the older adult for that can be used to protective services and exploitation incidentals help older adults avoid caseworkers through collaboration • Power-of-attorney financial fraud and and coordination scams Weill Cornell Medical among agencies controls—APS can College Division of require an accounting • Study of prevalence of Geriatrics and Gerontology • Multidisciplinary of funds from older elder abuse in NY Teams— adult’s power-of- state, in conjunction • Project on Elder Abuse representatives from the attorney agent with LifeSpan and Weill and Neglect—conducts health, mental health, Cornell Medical college research and provides public safety, legal, Brookdale Center for training on elder abuse, victim assistance, and Healthy Aging and Attorney General including financial social services sectors Longevity at Hunter College • “Smart Seniors” exploitation review, discuss, and • Daily Money publication —a guide Brookdale Center for coordinate cases of Management Services for older adults to help Healthy Aging and elder abuse; identify —helps older adults guard against scams Longevity at Hunter College problems that can be make financial and prevent elder brought to the attention decisions or make abuse • Primary trainer of APS of others for strategizing financial decisions on workers in NY state and intervention; and behalf of older adults identify research needs who are no longer able Page 55 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Efforts to Provide Exploitation by Financial Information to and Services Providers, Enhance Expertise for Efforts to Foster Power-of-Attorney Efforts to Educate and Professionals Collaboration among Agents, and Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Institutions Responding State Caregivers the General Public Exploitation to Exploitation State Law NYPD NYC Elder Abuse Network • Revised Power-of- • Community outreach at • Brings police, district attorney form senior centers attorneys’ offices, social service agencies, • Mandatory background NYC Department of and others together to checks for paid in- Consumer Affairs discuss legislation, home caregivers • “Be a Savvy Senior” — policy, research, and guide for older adults program planning Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention • Emergency shelter for victims of elder abuse District Attorney’s Offices • Elder Abuse or Financial Crimes units with staff working specifically on elder financial exploitation Pennsylvania State Law Attorney General Institute on Protective Philadelphia Financial • Mandatory reporting for • Senior Consumer Services at Temple Exploitation Task Force healthcare Reference Guide — University • Collaboration between professionals information on how to • Staff at the Institute, APS, law enforcement, • Mandatory background avoid scams and fraud including a financial and private sector, with checks for paid in- • Senior Crime accountant, provide the goal of promoting home caregivers Prevention University investigative assistance awareness and — outreach program to to APS and law prevention campaigns, PA Securities Commission make older adults enforcement for elder delivering training, and • Investor alerts – a aware of common financial exploitation increasing their joint collection of tips, scams, to teach them cases capacity to conduct techniques, and how to avoid becoming • Develops curriculum focused investigations advisories for investors a victim, and to know and provides training to and effectively whom to alert when APS prosecute cases they are concerned about their safety and Philadelphia Corporation for Statewide well-being the Aging • Elder Abuse Task • Staff member who only Forces - task forces • “Safe Seniors” review elder abuse Pamphlet — works on financial exploitation cases cases on a regular information for older basis and membership adults on how to • Training to bank may include APS, law protect themselves employees, local enforcement, judges, from abuse, including prosecutors, and other clergy, bankers, financial exploitation professionals on elder healthcare providers, or • Toll-free senior help financial exploitation others line Page 56 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix X: Examples of State and Local Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Efforts to Provide Exploitation by Financial Information to and Services Providers, Enhance Expertise for Efforts to Foster Power-of-Attorney Efforts to Educate and Professionals Collaboration among Agents, and Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Institutions Responding State Caregivers the General Public Exploitation to Exploitation Adult Protective Services Philadelphia Police Agencies Department • State law grants APS • Outreach at senior access to bank records centers for elder financial exploitation PA Securities Commission investigations • Elder Investment Fraud PA Securities Commission and Financial Exploitation Prevention • ABCs for APS Program (EIFFE)— Professionals— educates medical information for APS professionals about workers on how to how to spot older identify investment adults who may be fraud particularly vulnerable Attorney General to financial abuse and then to refer suspected • Elder Abuse Unit— investment fraud investigates and involving these at-risk prosecutes elder patients to state financial exploitation securities regulators Philadelphia Police and/or to APS Department • “Confessions of a • Crimes Against Retired Scam Artist” and Elderly Unit— publication— investigates crimes information to raise affecting older adults awareness SeniorLAW Center Department of Banking • Provides legal • “Protect Yourself, assistance to senior Protect Your Money”— crime victims publication includes information on common scams and tips on avoiding scams Source: GAO interviews and review of documents from California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. Page 57 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Exploitation by Efforts to Provide Financial Services Information to and Efforts to Foster Providers, Power-of- Enhance Expertise for Collaboration among Attorney Agents, and Efforts to Educate and Professionals Institutions Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Responding to Caregivers the General Public Exploitation Exploitation AARP Free Lunch Monitor Protecting Your Assets MoSafe Program AARP is a nonprofit, Program Project • In conjunction with nonpartisan organization, • AARP asks • Project provides basic the Missouri with a membership of members to send tips on avoiding fraud Bankers more than 37 million, that them invitations to AARP members, Association, the helps people age 50 and they receive to free including email blasts AARP Missouri above have lunch seminars that and website links for state office independence, choice, sell investment additional information developed a training and control in ways that products. Members program for bank are beneficial to them also attend and No Free Lunch Program clerks on financial and society as a whole. report back to • Provides information exploitation AARP on the on responding to high specific investment pressure sales tactics offers. AARP has on AARP’s website, as compiled well as information on information on the senior financial advisor trustworthiness of designations these investment Research Projects Related sales pitches. to Elder Financial Exploitation • AARP has conducted several research projects related to elder financial exploitation including studies of: • personality traits of fraud victims and effective prevention messages, • effective outreach activities for investor fraud victims, • diminished financial capacity of older adults and implications for the financial services industry, • preventing the use of misleading senior designations, • power-of-attorney abuse and what states can do about it, Page 58 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Exploitation by Efforts to Provide Financial Services Information to and Efforts to Foster Providers, Power-of- Enhance Expertise for Collaboration among Attorney Agents, and Efforts to Educate and Professionals Institutions Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Responding to Caregivers the General Public Exploitation Exploitation and • background checks and other screenings for home care providers American Bar Research Projects Related Continuing Legal Association to Elder Financial Education Seminars A voluntary professional Exploitation • Webinars on topics organization. The mission • Several research related to elder of the American Bar projects related to abuse Association Commission elder financial on Law and Aging is to exploitation have been strengthen and secure conducted, including the legal rights, dignity, studies of: autonomy, quality of life, • state APS laws and and quality of care of types of elder abuse, elders. • bank employees and their ability to report elder financial exploitation, • court-focused elder abuse initiatives, and • elder abuse registries American Bankers Protecting the Elderly From Information for members Association Financial Abuse Pamphlet • Shares information Represents banks of all • Pamphlet is designed with members on sizes and types and is for older adults and the how to identify elder the voice for the nation’s general public. It financial exploitation banking industry and its includes information on • Provides information employees signs of financial via conferences and abuse, protecting from phone briefings to financial abuse, and its members on what to do if someone federal bank privacy suspects financial laws, encouraging abuse. members to report suspicious activity Frontline Training for Bank Employees • Consumer protection and privacy training is intended for frontline Page 59 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Exploitation by Efforts to Provide Financial Services Information to and Efforts to Foster Providers, Power-of- Enhance Expertise for Collaboration among Attorney Agents, and Efforts to Educate and Professionals Institutions Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Responding to Caregivers the General Public Exploitation Exploitation bank employees. Training includes various aspects of consumer protection, including elder financial exploitation. Bank Compliance Magazine article July- August 2011 edition • In a magazine distributed to banks, types of elder financial exploitation, why older adults are particularly vulnerable, the role of banks, and relevant state and federal laws were described National Adult Research Projects Related National Adult Protective Protective Services to Elder Financial Services Resource Association Exploitation Center A national non-profit with • Currently conducting a • Runs the Resource over 500 members in all baseline survey of Center, which is fifty states. Provides state state APS programs funded by the and local Adult Protective • Report on state APS Administration on Services program responses to financial Aging administrators and staff exploitation of National Conference with a forum for sharing vulnerable adults information, solving • Hosts a conference problems, and improving for APS the quality of services for professionals and victims of elder and several sessions are vulnerable adult abuse. usually dedicated to elder financial exploitation Webinars • Hosts webinars on various topics related to elder abuse for APS Page 60 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Exploitation by Efforts to Provide Financial Services Information to and Efforts to Foster Providers, Power-of- Enhance Expertise for Collaboration among Attorney Agents, and Efforts to Educate and Professionals Institutions Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Responding to Caregivers the General Public Exploitation Exploitation professionals Creating APS Core Training • Working with California officials to create core competencies for APS workers, which would include financial exploitation, with a goal of creating national core training for APS workers Financial Industry Collects investor Investor Alerts Collaboration with Regulatory Authority complaints • Disseminates federal and state The largest independent • Investors are able information about regulators regulator for all securities to make complaints scams, trends, or new • Works closely with firms doing business in via its website, financial products the Securities and the United States. Its phone, fax, or mail. Exchange Research Projects Related Commission on mission is to protect to Elder Financial investor education America’s investors by Exploitation and examinations making sure the securities industry • Conducted several • Works with state operates fairly and research projects securities regulators honestly. related to elder on investor education financial exploitation, campaigns including studies of: • Investment fraud Collaboration with other non-governmental • National Financial organization Capability Study Together with the • Senior Investor Stanford Center on Literacy and Fraud Longevity, founded a Susceptibility financial fraud research • Senior Fraud Risk center • Senior Financial Advisor Designations Investor Protection Elder Investment Fraud Research Projects Related Trust and Financial to Elder Financial A nonprofit organization Exploitation Prevention Exploitation devoted to investor Program • Surveyed older adults education. The primary • The program and their families about mission is to provide educates medical handling personal Page 61 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XI: Examples of Non-Governmental Organization Activities to Prevent and Respond to Elder Financial Exploitation Efforts to Prevent Exploitation by Efforts to Provide Financial Services Information to and Efforts to Foster Providers, Power-of- Enhance Expertise for Collaboration among Attorney Agents, and Efforts to Educate and Professionals Institutions Paid in-Home Inform Older Adults and Responding to Responding to Caregivers the General Public Exploitation Exploitation independent, objective professionals on finances, current information needed by how to spot older financial conditions, consumers to make Americans who and experiences with informed investment may be particularly financial fraud or decisions. vulnerable to abuse. financial abuse, • Surveyed experts particularly those about elder financial with mild cognitive exploitation. impairment, and then to refer National Call-in Day: suspected Protecting Elders from investment fraud Financial Abuse involving these at- • Hosted a call-in day, in risk patients to collaboration with other state securities organizations, for older regulators and/or to adults and their local APS families to receive free professionals. advice and guidance on protecting against investment swindles and financial abuse Financial Services Older Americans Financial BITS Fraud Prevention Collaboration with state Roundtable, BITS Abuse Prevention Working Toolkit and local governments The mission of the Group Pamphlet • Information for and other non- Financial Services • Contains fraud banks on the role of governmental Roundtable is to protect prevention tips for financial institutions organizations and promote the consumers and for in preventing and Older Americans economic vitality and organizations working responding to elder Financial Abuse integrity of its members with older adults financial Prevention Working and the United States exploitation, red Group financial system. BITS flags and types of addresses issues at the offenders and intersection of financial scams, and the role services, technology and of APS public policy, such as critical infrastructure protection, fraud prevention, and the safety of financial services. Source: GAO interviews and information collected on organization websites. Page 62 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XII: Criminal Background Check Appendix XII: Criminal Background Check Requirements for In-home Caregivers in Selected States Requirements for In-home Caregivers in Selected States Checks for Publicly Criminal Background Funded Care Only or Type of Conditional Checks Mandatory Publicly and Privately Background Employment a State or Discretionary? Funded Care? Check Allowed? Disqualifying Offenses California Discretionary Publicly & privately State and federal State does not Offenses that are against funded care specify dependent or vulnerable individuals or fraud-related Illinois Mandatory Publicly & privately State only Yes Homicide; other violent, funded care sex-related, drug-related, fraud-related; and property offenses New York Mandatory Publicly & privately State and Yes Homicide; other violent, funded care sometimes sex-related, drug-related, federal and fraud-related offenses; and offenses against dependent or vulnerable individuals Pennsylvania Mandatory Publicly & privately State and Yes Homicide; other violent, funded care sometimes sex-related , drug-related, federal and fraud-related offenses; and offenses against dependent or vulnerable individuals Source: AARP Public Policy Institute. (September 2010) Safe at Home? Developing Effective Criminal Background Checks and Other Screening Policies for Home Care Workers Note: Information is as of December 2008. a Conditional employment occurs when in-home caregivers are allowed to begin working before background checks are complete. Page 63 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XIII: Resource Centers Supported Appendix XIII: Resource Centers Supported by the Administration on Aging by the Administration on Aging Name Intended Users Information and Services National Center on National, state, and local professionals working with Disseminates news items related to elder abuse Elder Abuse victims of elder mistreatment, including APS Operates a listserv for professionals professionals, state and federal agencies, law enforcement, legal professionals, health care Provides information about promising practices and professionals, domestic violence networks, interventions community-based organizations, elder rights Provides a training library advocates Funds research Public policymakers Researchers General public National Adult Adult Protective Services professionals nationwide Disseminates a monthly newsletter Protective Services Maintains an APS-specific listserv Resource Center Publishes brief descriptions of recent applicable research Holds regular webcasts Collects and compiles detailed information about APS throughout the country Provides information to state and local APS programs to facilitate implementation of identified best practices and research findings National Legal Professionals involved in protecting the rights of Disseminates information on a wide range of legal issues Resource Center older persons, including: affecting older adults Providers of legal assistance, including senior legal Training on legal issues helplines Technical assistance on the provision of legal services to State and local APS professionals older adults Elder rights advocates Case consultation, including on elder financial exploitation cases Source: GAO analysis of information provided by NCEA, National Adult Protective Services Resource Center, and National Legal Resource Center. Page 64 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XIV: Example of a Letter Appendix XIV: Example of a Letter Promoting a Fraudulent Sweepstakes Scheme Promoting a Fraudulent Sweepstakes Scheme Page 65 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XV: Total Number of FTC Appendix XV: Total Number of FTC Consumer Sentinel Network Complaints by Source, CY 2011 Consumer Sentinel Network Complaints by Source, CY 2011 Source Number of Complaints Percent of Total a Complaints made directly to the FTC, by individuals and others 788,576 43% Better Business Bureaus 416,520 23% b Internet Crime Complaint Center 302,381 17% Western Union Money Transfer 54,657 3% Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 39,260 2% Publisher’s Clearinghouse 37,311 2% Others (such as state and local agencies and U.S. Postal Inspectors) 174,375 10% TOTAL 1,813,080 100% Source: FTC a These complaints may be made by phone, mail, or on the FTC’s website. b The Internet Crime Complaint Center, co-sponsored by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, collects internet-related criminal complaints and aims to further research, develop, and refer these complaints to appropriate federal, state, local, and international agencies. Page 66 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVI: Comments from the Appendix XVI: Comments from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Page 67 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVI: Comments from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Page 68 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVI: Comments from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Page 69 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVII: Comments from the Appendix XVII: Comments from the Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services Page 70 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVII: Comments from the Department of Health and Human Services Page 71 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Appendix XVIII: GAO Contacts and Staff Appendix XVIII: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements Acknowledgements Kay E. Brown, (202) 512-7215 or email@example.com. GAO Contacts: In addition to the contacts named above, Clarita Mrena, Eve Weisberg, Staff Andrea Dawson, and Brittni Milam made significant contributions to this Acknowledgements: report, in all aspects of the work. Also contributing to the report were James Bennett, Gary Bianchi, Jason Bromberg, Alicia Cackley, Paul Desaulniers, Holly Dye, Eileen Larence, Jean McSween, Chris Morehouse, Claudine Pauselli, Almeta Spencer, Kate Van Gelder, and Craig Winslow. Page 72 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation Related GAO Products Related GAO Products Incapacitated Adults: Oversight of Federal Fiduciaries and Court- Appointed Guardians Needs Improvement. GAO-11-678. Washington, D.C.: July 22, 2011. Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Help Improve Response to Elder Abuse. GAO-11-384T. Washington, D.C.: March 2, 2011 Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse. GAO-11-208, Washington, D.C.: March 2, 2011 Older Americans Act: More Should Be Done to Measure the Extent of Unmet Need for Services. GAO-11-237. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 2011. Consumer Finance: Regulatory Coverage Generally Exists for Financial Planners, but Consumer Protection Issues Remain. GAO-11-235. Washington, D.C.: January 18, 2011. Guardianships: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, and Abuse of Seniors. GAO-10-1046. Washington, D.C.: September 30, 2010. Guardianships: Little Progress in Ensuring Protection for Incapacitated Elderly People. GAO-06-1086T. Washington, D.C.: September 7, 2006. Results-Oriented Government: Practices That Can Help Enhance and Sustain Collaboration among Federal Agencies. GAO-06-15. Washington, D.C.: October 21, 2005. Guardianships: Collaboration Needed to Protect Incapacitated Elderly People. GAO-04-655. Washington, D.C.: July 13, 2004. (131134) Page 73 GAO-13-110 Elder Financial Exploitation The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and GAO’s Mission investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no Obtaining Copies of cost is through GAO’s website (http://www.gao.gov). Each weekday GAO Reports and afternoon, GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony, and correspondence. 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Elder Justice: National Strategy Needed to Effectively Combat Elder Financial Exploitation
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-11-15.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)