In a continuing effort to combat one of the most under-reported and fastest growing crimes of the 21st century, Governor Paul R. LePage and the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention have announced the launch of an innovative new training initiative called Senior$afe: a three-part program designed to assist bank and credit union personnel with identifying and referring suspected cases of elder financial abuse.
“Financial institutions can play a critical role in identifying and reporting suspected cases of elder financial exploitation,” Governor LePage said. “Senior$afe will enhance the efforts of bank and credit union employees in assisting seniors who have been victimized and those who may be especially vulnerable. This unique training initiative should strengthen our State’s efforts to address elder abuse.”
The Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention worked with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Department of Professional and Financial Protection (DPFR), and Legal Services for the Elderly, as well as with the Maine Bankers Association and Maine Credit Union League to create this training program for both front line staff, such as tellers, and for management who would be making referrals to government agencies. Senior$afe sessions will begin later this month across the state.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew noted that Senior$afe complements the Maine Reporting Project training developed by DHHS Adult Protective Services. DPFR Commissioner Anne Head emphasized that this initiative is needed more than ever before. “Financial exploitation, which includes investment fraud and scams, is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its victims an estimated $2.9 billion each year across the nation. “Maine is fortunate to have financial institutions that value the independence and safety of our seniors.”
“This training program is the first of its kind in the country,” commented Jaye Martin Executive Director for Legal Services for the Elderly and Council member. “The Council is extremely proud of our collaboration and looks forward to assisting financial institutions with the roll-out of this program.”
Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the Council, stressed the importance of reporting suspected cases. “The Office of Securities and other state agencies are committed to fighting elder financial exploitation, but our efforts are much more successful when people come forward to report their concerns. Giving front line bank and credit union personnel the tools to identify suspected elder abuse will help protect Maine’s seniors before the financial damage becomes too great.”
Although the Council’s training program is designed for financial institutions, Commissioner Head and Administrator Shaw encouraged seniors and those who care for them to contact the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation for answers to questions or to obtain resources by calling 1-877-624-8551. Information is also available at www.investors.maine.gov.
Other agencies and organizations providing information, services and education on elder abuse include:
-- Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads; 1-800-262-2232 or 207-287-9200.
-- Maine Adult Protective Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging; Hotline: 1-800-624-8404.
-- Legal Services for the Elderly: www.mainelse.org; 1-800-750-5353.
-- Maine Area Agencies on Aging: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm
-- Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (Five Agencies Offering a Wide Range of Assistance to Seniors and Caregivers): www.maine.gov/pfr