June 15, 2020 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation used June 15 as an opportunity to remind all of us to help elders be on guard for financial exploitation. You can see the State’s announcement here.
The State’s announcement is a reminder that in light of COVID-19, social isolation has exposed seniors to increased risk of financial abuse. Schemes to take advantage of seniors can include everything from identify theft, to prize and sweepstakes scams, to romance scams, to unscrupulous investment advisers who overconcentrate a senior’s portfolio or recommend unsuitable investments.
Along with laws that protect you from investment fraud, Oregon has laws aimed at providing additional protections for people who are 65 and older. In particular, laws prohibiting financial elder abuse create a statutory right for a person 65 and over to bring a legal action against someone who causes or permits financial abuse. Many financial abuse cases in Oregon involve a defendant who has wrongfully taken money that belongs to an elderly person or that is intended for the use of an elderly person. Oregon’s financial elder abuse statutes give the plaintiff who wins his or her case the right to recover three times the amount of damages plus reasonable attorney fees.
Because of the protections for seniors in elder abuse statutes in Oregon and other states, when we are evaluating cases that involve investment fraud or other financial misconduct, we also look to see whether the victim may have a right to bring a claim for financial elder abuse.