State Officials Urge Prevention and Reporting of Elder Abuse
Hawaiʻi Securities Commissioner Ty Nohara encourages everyone to help to protect our kūpuna by reporting possible financial abuse, in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
WEAAD was established to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes that affect elder abuse and neglect.
“Elder abuse can come in many forms–physical, financial, emotional, neglect or abandonment,” said Nohara. “We often see several types of abuse being inflicted at the same time.”
The most common form of elder abuse is financial abuse, costing victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year.
“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century as the growing senior population is increasingly targeted,” explained Nohara. “Studies show that family members and caregivers are the wrongdoers in more than half of these cases. Anyone can–and should–report abuse of an elderly person, whether it is physical, emotional or financial.”
To help combat this problem, the Hawaiʻi Office of the Securities Commissioner is joining the North American Securities Administrators Association and the National Adult Protective Services Association in their effort to offer tools to identify and report financial abuse or exploitation.
Investment fraud is an area of particular concern, as victims can see their life savings depleted with little or no opportunity to recover financial stability.
“Financial losses through investment fraud can be devastating for our local families and community,” said Nohara. “Those who lose their life savings suffer a physical, emotional and financial toll. Don’t wait. It’s vital that financial abuse be reported promptly to our office.”
Securities fraud comes in many forms–the investment might be fraudulent, or it could be a legitimate product that is unsuitable for the investor’s circumstances. Other investment problems include unregistered products, theft of funds or products sold by an unlicensed adviser or broker.
Investors and caregivers are urged to “investigate before investing” by calling the Hawaiʻi Office of the Securities Commissioner to verify if the product and person selling it are registered and if there have been any complaints.
To report any type of investment fraud, call the state’s Securities Enforcement Branch at (808) 586-2740 or toll-free at 1 (877) HI-SCAMS.
Other types of elder abuse should be reported immediately to the Hawaiʻi’s Adult Protective and Community Services Branch on the various islands:
- Oʻahu: (808) 832-5115
- East Hawaiʻi: (808) 933-8820
- West Hawaiʻi: (808) 327-6280
- Kauaʻi: (808) 241-3337
- Maui: (808) 243-5151
Residents are also encouraged to call local police to report abuse.