NEWARK —The New Jersey Bureau of Securities urged citizens throughout New Jersey to take a stand and join the fight against the “crime of the 21st century” by reporting suspected abuse of New Jersey’s seniors. The announcement was made today in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
“Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical, financial or emotional abuse, neglect and abandonment – and in many cases of abuse, several types are inflicted together,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Financial abuse is considered the most common form of elder abuse, and costs its victims an estimated $2.9 billion each year.”
To help fight this problem, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and its Bureau of Securities are joining the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) 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 opportunity to recover financial stability.
“Scams in which criminals prey on senior citizens, and seek to steal their savings, are among the most malicious in our society,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Through our FedUp presentations, and through the investor education provided by our Bureau of Securities, the Division of Consumer Affairs provides the awareness seniors and their loved ones can use to protect themselves.”
Securities fraud can come in many forms. A particular 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 You Invest” by calling the New Jersey Bureau of Securities at 866-446-8378, to verify whether the product and person selling it are registered/licensed, and learn whether there have been any complaints.
“Financial losses through investment fraud scams can be devastating,” Bureau Chief Abbe R. Tiger said. “Those who lose their life savings suffer a physical and emotional toll as well as a financial toll. They may become fearful, develop health issues, become depressed and even consider suicide. It’s imperative that financial abuse be reported promptly to the proper authorities.”
Elder financial abuse is an under-recognized problem with devastating consequences. The growing senior population is increasingly targeted for abuse with studies showing that women were twice as likely as men to be victims of elder financial abuse. Family members and caregivers are the culprits in more than half of these cases.
Securities or investment fraud should be reported to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities at 866-446-8378. Other types of elder abuse should be reported to New Jersey Adult Protective Services/Elder Abuse Website at http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/aps.shtml, or to local authorities. In the United States, you may also report abuse through the national Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.
NASAA, of which the New Jersey Bureau of Securities is a member, is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. Its membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the provinces and territories of Canada, and Mexico. www.nasaa.org
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs provides FedUp presentations, and a FedUp booklet available in English at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/fedup/NewFedUp.pdf, and in Spanish at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/fedup/NewFedUpSpan.pdf, to thousands of senior citizens each year. Groups wishing to host a FedUp event may contact the Division's Outreach team at 973-504-6241.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook, and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events.