Ohio Law Aims to Prevent Elder Fraud

Inside Subprime: Jan 3, 2018

By Lindsay Frankel 

A new state law is designed to prevent scams targeted at seniors in Ohio and hold fraudsters accountable. House Bill 24 was recently signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. The law requires anyone who defrauds an elderly person, defined as someone over the age of 65, to pay full restitution in addition to a fine of up to $50,000. The money will benefit county agencies aimed at investigating elder fraud.

In addition, the law makes some financial workers mandated reporters of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. And it necessitates the Ohio Attorney General to publish six or more public awareness pieces each year that identify warning signs, instructs citizens how to report cases of elder fraud, and provide resources to prevent the financial exploitation of older adults or address fraud after it has occurred.

The new law comes as cases of elder exploitation are on the rise in Ohio. In 2018, more than 3,630 cases were reported, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. And even more cases are expected to go unreported; an estimated 1 in 10 seniors have dealt with some type of elder abuse, which can include financial exploitation. Nationwide, elder fraud costs senior citizens about $2.9 billion annually, and only about 44 out of every 1,000 cases get reported. The law aims to uncover more cases, with the increased financial penalty designed to fund more investigations.

House Bill 24 was sponsored by state Sen. Steve Wilson. “Day after day we saw our seniors being ripped off,” Wilson said. “It is really an epidemic of people going after our most frail and fragile citizens. They can convince them they won the lottery and they haven’t bought a ticket.”

Wilson added that bank employees are typically cognizant of changes in a regular customer’s withdrawal habits, putting them in a position to be able to identify red flags. The new law mandates that those workers report their suspicions to authorities. “We’re not going to stop elder fraud, but we are absolutely going to put a dent in it with this bill,” Wilson said.

For more information on payday loans, scams, and cash advances and check out our state financial guides including Ohio cities like Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Fremont, Lima, Springfield, Toledo, and Youngstown.

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