Financial exploitation is the most prevalent type of elder abuse in the United States. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Services defines financial exploitation as “the illegal, unauthorized, improper or fraudulent use of an adult’s funds, property, benefits, resources, or other assets for another’s profit, benefit, or advantage.” Each year, America’s most vulnerable citizens lose over $1.2 billion because they are being manipulated and abused by trusted friends, family members, and caretakers. Sadly, only a small percentage of these cases ever reach the desks of legal professionals or protective services. In fact, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services estimates that there are over 44,000 unreported cases of financial abuse each year.
Fortunately, state lawmakers are attempting to provide new protections to elderly Virginians. If the General Assembly approves SB 1490 and HB 1987, financial institutions across the state will receive additional tools to prevent future acts of financial exploitation. Senator Mark D. Obenshain, our founding attorney, is sponsoring SB 1490. As he explained to Capital News Service reporter Jayla Marie McNiell, “This bill addresses the issue of financial exploitation of older Virginians, which has been on the rise in recent years.”
Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, is likewise sponsoring HB 1987, which has already been approved by the House and the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. In the Capital News Service report, Del. Toscano opines: “I think it’s important for people to pay close attention to elderly folks and how they may be financially exploited…This bill helps encourage banking institutions to do that. What we’ve been finding is that sometimes, elderly people are exploited by their caregivers or some relative by taking them to the bank and removing cash from their accounts. Once the cash is removed, it’s hard to get back. So, this gives lending institutions some more teeth to make sure that they’re not giving away the money or folks who are being exploited…”
Together, SB 1490 and HB 1987 give financial institutions the power to delay or refuse transactions so long as the representatives believe that the “transaction or disbursement may involve, facilitate, result in, or contribute to the financial exploitation of an adult.” These employees are also protected from civil or criminal liability so long as their actions are taken with reasonable cause. Senator Obenshain believes these bills are vital because bank tellers often feel helpless when they can’t stop or delay questionable and suspicious transactions. He adds that SB 1490 “will empower these bank employees to help protect vulnerable older Virginians.”
Providing Exceptional Legal Representation for Over 30 Years
Senator Obenshain and the legal team at Obenshain Law Group are longtime advocates for the health and wellbeing of the elderly. In the past 10 years, our firm has helped countless families file lawsuits against negligent and abusive nursing homes and caretakers. We are proud to support SB 1490 and look forward to seeing it deliver new protections to our fellow citizens.
Protect your loved ones from financial exploitation. Contact Obenshain Law Group at (540) 318-7360 if you require legal representation. Our firm offers free consultations.