General Information

According to the National Council on Aging, financial abuse and fraud costs elderly Americans $36.5 billion dollars annually and impacts millions of lives. Elderly Americans are often a targeted group for financial abuse. Recognizing the gravity of this pervasive issue, Secretary of State Connie Lawson worked with lawmakers and industry professionals to pass senior savings protection legislation in order to protect elderly Hoosier investors. This legislation gives broker-dealers and investment advisers additional tools to fight the growing and troubling trend of the financial exploitation of seniors.

The law provides that broker-dealers and investment advisers shall report suspected financial exploitation to the Indiana Secretary of State, Securities Division (“Division”). The law also provides a mechanism for broker-dealers and investment advisers to temporarily hold a disbursement of funds if there is a reasonable belief of suspected senior exploitation. Recent data from the National Adult Protective Services Association reports that only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are ever reported. The Senior Savings Protection legislation is the first step in reversing this trend and recognizing potential financial abuse of seniors and financially vulnerable adults.

Indicators of Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation of elderly Americans is one of the most prevalent forms of financial abuse. The first step in preventing financial exploitation is to recognize that the financial abuse or fraud is occurring. The following tips will help identify elderly financial fraud or abuse.

  • Elder financial abuse is typically perpetrated by those closest to elderly Americans, such as family members, caretakers, and neighbors.
  • Cognitive decline, often brought on by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, can make elderly individuals more susceptible to financial abuse.
  • A lack of knowledge regarding major financial transactions and unusual spending behavior, including increased use of credit cards and large ATM withdrawals, are red flags indicating abuse may be occurring.
  • Sudden changes in an elderly individual’s mood, including depression and nervousness, are potentially signs abuse is occurring.
  • New best friends, particularly those that appear interested in the elderly individual’s finances, should be viewed with suspicion.
  • Unpaid bills, a lack of food in the home, and missing personal possessions should all raise alarm.
  • Sudden legal changes, such as estate planning and power of attorney, should give notice that fraud is potentially occurring.
  • If something seems amiss, investigate and report any suspicions to the proper authorities.
Indiana Council Against Senior Exploitation (IN-CASE)

The goal of the Indiana Council Against Senior Exploitation (“IN-CASE”) is to empower Indiana communities to prevent and end senior exploitation and elder abuse. IN-CASE seeks to achieve this goal by educating, encouraging, and empowering individuals to prevent and end exploitation and abuse. If you believe you, or someone you know, may be experiencing any signs or symptoms of elder abuse, do not hesitate to report it. IN-CASE will help direct you to the appropriate agency or organization best suited to help fight any exploitation or abuse.

Requirements
  • If an individual associated with a broker-dealer or investment adviser has reason to believe that financial exploitation of a financially vulnerable adult is potentially occurring, the individual shall make a report to Adult Protective Services and notify the Division of the suspected financial exploitation by filing online through the Indiana Securities Portal.
    • A financially vulnerable adult is defined as an individual that is at least sixty-five (65) years of age or over the age of eighteen (18) and incapable of managing or directing the management of the individual’s property by reason of mental illness, intellectual disability, dementia, or other physical or mental incapacity.
    • Once a report is made to Adult Protective Services and the Division, the broker-dealer or investment adviser may, to the extent permitted under federal law, notify specific individuals close to the financially vulnerable adult of the potential financial exploitation.
  • The broker-dealer or investment adviser is permitted to refuse disbursement from the account of a financially vulnerable adult if there is reason to believe that the requested disbursement may result in financial exploitation of the financially vulnerable adult.
    • In order to refuse disbursement, the broker-dealer or investment adviser must do all of the following:
      • Make a reasonable effort to notify all parties on the account of the refusal no more than two (2) business days after the refusal; and
      • Notify Adult Protective Services and the Division no more than three (3) business days after the refusal.
    • The broker-dealer or investment adviser may refuse the disbursement for up to fifteen (15) days.
      • If the review of the facts by the broker-dealer or investment adviser provide reasonable belief that financial exploitation is occurring, the commissioner shall extend the disbursement refusal for an additional fifteen (15) days.
    • The broker-dealer or investment adviser must notify the Division by phone, email (seniorprotection@sos.in.gov) or mail at the conclusion of the internal investigation.
  • If a broker-dealer or investment adviser complies in good faith with the reporting requirements or refuses disbursement in good faith under the Indiana Code, the broker-dealer or investment adviser is immune from any administrative or civil liability for actions taken in accordance with those sections.
Relevant Law

Indiana Code [IC 23-19-4.1]
Compliance Alert: Indiana Securities Division Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak [March 24, 2020]

Helpful Resources

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Alzheimer's Association
Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program
Indiana Adult Protective Services
Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Indiana Council Against Senior Exploitation (IN-CASE)
Serve Our Seniors

Division Personnel

Daniel Spungen
Chief Deputy Securities Commissioner
dspungen@sos.in.gov
317-234-2741