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What’s Being Done to Stop Elder Financial Abuse?


Learn about the new initiatives – and tech – that can keep you and your loved ones protected

Elder fraud is in the news a lot, but something is finally being done to help combat this growing problem. Many banks and brokerage firms are now beginning to take measures to keep their older customers protected. However, brokerage firms will frequently protect themselves to avoid lawsuits. If you feel that a stockbroker has abused your trust, counsel should be sought to try and recover damages.

Wells Fargo Advisors has been examining the issue for over a decade, and in 2010 the company started tracking cases of elder financial fraud. Then they were getting an average of about 30 every month. But four years later, that number climbed to almost 100. And now? It’s about twice that.

This is why Wells Fargo created a team within its compliance department to handle these reports. So far there have been around 4,000 reports, half of which were incidents related to abuse.

Merrill Lynch is another company that has felt the pressure to curb elder financial abuse. The company started programs educating its advisors about preventing and handling abuse, with guidelines to get to know family members and other trusted people within a client’s social circle.

In addition to giving their advisors information on elder abuse, Fidelity Investments has created a partnership with a company called EverSafe, which monitors client accounts and looks for suspicious transactions on a daily basis. The system offers financial managers better oversight of their customers’ accounts than monthly reviews, says EverSafe CEO Howard Tischler.

“This service is another tool that advisors can use to help their clients preserve and pass on their wealth,” Tischler said. “It offers the ability to detect potential financial abuse when it starts, not after the accounts are empty and there’s little chance of recovery.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also stepping in to safeguard elderly investors. In early 2017, the SEC approved a rule by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), that requires brokers to take action if they suspect abuse. The SEC has made the protection of seniors one of its top priorities. In January, the agency said it was planning to “evaluate how firms manage their interactions with senior investors, including their ability to identify financial exploitation of seniors.”

What does this mean for you?

The good news is that the problem of elder financial abuse is finally getting the recognition and attention it needs. The bad news is that unethical brokers and financial advisors will also try to stay one step ahead to exploit vulnerable people. Even the above firms have brokers who violate securities industry regulations, and the firms themselves are responsible under FINRA’s supervision rules. This is why no matter what tactics your firm is using, you have to know what’s going on with your accounts – or those of an elderly loved one – and stay vigilant.

Already a victim? Help is available

While these new measures won’t mean much for people who have already been victimized, they should know that they may be able to recover money through securities arbitration. The first step is to speak to experienced elder fraud attorneys. You’ll be able to explain the situation and then get advice on how to proceed. For a free consultation, get in touch with the Silver Law Group. We’ve helped investors recover millions of dollars, and we may be able to assist you. Call us at 800-975-4345 or just fill out our online contact form.

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