Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen and Attorney General Steve Bullock today issued the following statements commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In the last year, Montana has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of allegations of elder abuse, with neglect being the most common form of abuse. In addition, more than 7.3 million older Americans – one out of every five people over the age of 65 – already have been victimized by a financial swindle.
Lindeen’s office investigates and prosecutes securities and insurance fraud in Montana, including scams that target the elderly.
“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century. Montana’s seniors are often a target for con-artists and fraudsters who would try to take their life savings. Too often, the shame of being taken by a scam makes seniors reluctant to report the crime,” said Lindeen. “My office is here to root out investment and insurance scams – especially those that target seniors. It’s important to call my office at the first sign that something might be wrong with a securities or insurance product. Making the call early improves our chances to make things right and could save many more Montanans the pain of being taken.”
As Attorney General, Bullock oversees the Montana Department of Justice, which fights elder abuse on several fronts.
“The abuse of Montana’s elders is a disgrace that affects every community in our state. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. National statistics tell us that most crimes against the elderly are never discovered; our grandparents suffer alone,” said Bullock. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day shines a spotlight on these crimes. There is a lot we can all do to address this problem, and the first step is simple: Call or visit with your elderly relatives. Visit with your older neighbors. Pay attention. These crimes can happen in your family or in your neighborhood, but by being aware, you can help prevent them.”
Last year, there were 3634 cases of neglect, 1173 cases of exploitation, and 907 cases of abuse reported in Montana, according to figures from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. The most common form of elder abuse in Montana is self neglect, which is most common among people with co-occurring mental illnesses who fail to adequately control their illness through medication and may become isolated or depressed.
Montana residents can call the Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500 to report suspected elder abuse.