Officials in each of the four states GAO contacted identified the need for more safeguards and public awareness activities to help prevent elder financial exploitation. They also noted that it is difficult to prevent exploitation by individuals such as financial services providers, power of attorney agents, guardians, and paid in-home caregivers. Although states have primary responsibility for combating elder financial exploitation, the federal government could disseminate information on model power of attorney legislation, for example, to help states better safeguard against power of attorney abuse-one type of federal activity authorized under the Older Americans Act of 1965. In addition, experts and state and local officials told GAO that many older adults need more information about what constitutes elder financial exploitation in order to report and avoid it. The seven federal agencies GAO reviewed have undertaken activities to increase public awareness of elder financial exploitation. While some experts observed that a nationwide approach to educating the public is needed, federal public awareness activities are not currently conducted as part of a broader coordinated approach, which GAO believes could help ensure the effective use of federal resources. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council, which held its first meeting in 2012, could be the vehicle for developing and implementing a coordinated national strategy. The Council is composed of officials from federal agencies and is charged with developing national priorities and coordinating federal elder justice activities. Experts and officials in each state GAO reviewed indicated that difficulty 1) gaining expertise, 2) sustaining collaboration between law enforcement and adult protective services agencies, and 3) obtaining data hinders their response to elder financial exploitation. As with prevention, many federal agencies have individually taken steps to address these challenges that are in line with their own missions. For example, the Department of Justice (Justice) has begun to construct a website that contains training and other materials prosecutors can use to build their expertise in investigating and prosecuting elder abuse, which includes elder financial exploitation. However, there are gaps in federal support in some areas. For example, law enforcement officials in each of the four states GAO reviewed indicated that it is not clear how they should obtain the federal support they need to respond to interstate and international cases. Justice can provide this information, in keeping with its priority to strengthen its relationship with state and local law enforcement. Similarly, the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network database compiles incidents of financial exploitation reported to it by many sources around the country but receives incidents from state government agencies in only 12 states. The database would be of greater use if FTC obtained incidents from more of the states and contained an indicator that the incident involved an older adult.
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.17(d)|