AGENCIES FROM MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS MEET TO ADDRESS ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE
HELENA, Mont. – State Auditor Matt Rosendale today announced the creation of the Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force to better protect Montana’s older adult population from financial crimes and abuse.
The Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force will bring together ideas, resources, and expertise from members of several organizations to combat financial exploitation statewide.
Representatives from multiple state agencies joined Rosendale at the State Auditor’s office today to discuss ways to increase communication and prevent the financial exploitation of Montana’s seniors. Attendees included Attorney General Tim Fox, DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan, Michael Hagenlock from Adult Protective Services, Melanie Hall from Banking, Wyatt Glade from the County Attorneys Association, and other representatives from the attorney general’s office, DPHHS, and APS.
“We must come together to protect vulnerable Montanans from being abused and exploited,” Rosendale said. “Combatting this problem requires a multi-disciplinary approach, and this new task force will help ensure that senior financial exploitation is not tolerated in Montana.”
The launch of the new task force follows the implementation of House Bill 24 from the 2017 legislative session, which allows financial professionals to temporarily delay disbursements from vulnerable Montanans’ accounts when financial exploitation is suspected and report the issue to the State Auditor’s office. Since HB 24 was enacted, Rosendale’s office has received 30 reports of suspected exploitation and has been able to prevent more than $5 million in problematic transactions from taking place.
Montana has the second oldest state population in the country, and financial exploitation of elders is a growing problem. People over 65 control the vast majority of the country’s wealth after a lifetime of work and saving, making the senior population the prime target for financial abuse.
Rosendale’s office reports that 75 percent of securities fraud cases it has investigated in recent years have involved a person older than 65 and estimates that Montana seniors lose millions of dollars each year due to securities fraud and scams.
Senior financial exploitation is a highly underreported problem because of shame, fear, and confusion. Older Montanans are often victimized by family members, close friends, and others with access to their financial assets.
The State Auditor’s office will use the Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force to better coordinate with other state agencies in cases that involve exploitation across multiple jurisdictions.
Red flags of senior financial exploitation include:
- A person accompanying an elder shows excessive interest in their finances and is controlling of the elder’s conversations and interactions with other people
- Elder lacks knowledge about his or her financial status or shows reluctance to discuss finances
- Elder moves away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other “friends” or strangers
- Elder displays unusual excitement over a financial windfall or prize check
- The sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming rights to the elder’s affairs or assets
- Caretaker, relative, or friend begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an elder without proper documentation
- Abrupt changes to financial documents, such as power of attorney, wills and trusts, property title, and deeds
- Uncharacteristic nonpayment for services, which may indicate a loss of funds or access to funds
- Noticeable changes in a senior’s established banking or financial management habits, especially large withdrawals or attempts to wire large sums of money
Rosendale encourages anyone who suspects financial exploitation or fraud to contact his office at (406) 444-2040 or at www.csimt.gov.