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State Puts New Focus On Stopping Elder Financial Abuse

A state regulator is getting involved in the effort to detect and prevent financial fraud that targets older people. The Department of Financial Regulation wants people who work in finance to know the warning signs of fraud and be ready to intervene to help their customers.
Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, says his department is going to train financial professionals in the industries it regulates to detect and prevent elder financial abuse.

"We're focused on frauds that involve investments," he says. "So someone is taking somebody's life savings in terms of monies that are in stocks or bonds or other savings accounts, monies that are in credit unions or banks."

Pieciak says people 65 and older are often targeted for financial fraud because they can have substantial assets saved for retirement. His department is coordinating with other state agencies to combat the problem from several angles. 

"The Attorney General's Office handles more general frauds," he says. "We're looking more specifically at the financial frauds that impact either people's financial products, perpetrated by financial professionals themselves, or in situations where the financial professionals can help prevent the fraud in the first place."

Pieciak says the idea is to have a "no wrong door policy" when it comes to people stepping forward when they suspect financial fraud.

New regulations require financial professionals to report suspected abuse so that the Department of Financial Regulation can investigate. The department is forming an "elder abuse response team" that has the power to investigate, subpoena and file civil charges in cases of suspected fraud.

Listen to an interview with Pieciak from Monday's Vermont Editionabove.

Patti is an integral part of VPR's news effort and part of the team that created Vermont Edition. As executive producer, Patti supervises the team that puts Vermont Edition on the air every day, working with producers to select and research show ideas, select guests and develop the sound and tone of the program.
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