Thursday, July 19, 2007

California Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Legislation to Protect Elderly Californians from Financial Fraud and Abuse

With more aging Americans calling California home than any other state in the nation, California Governor Schwarzenegger today signed legislation to help protect elders from fraud and abuse.

“Public safety is government’s primary responsibility. We must do whatever possible to prevent unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of older Californians. These new bills will help strengthen laws to protect aging Californians and ensure families can seek justice if their loved one is a victim of abuse,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

The bills signed today are:

SB 183 by Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) - Elderly and dependent adults: civil actions. This measure allows heirs to continue legal action after the death of an elder or dependent adult.

SB 611 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) - Financial abuse of elder and dependent adults. This bill gives judges additional tools to provide restitution to elders and dependent adults who are victims of financial abuse.

Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1609 by Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) which helps protect seniors from unscrupulous lenders when they enter into reverse mortgages. In 2005, he signed SB 1018 by Sen. Simitian which helped protect seniors from financial abuse by requiring bank, savings and loan, and credit union employees who suspect elder financial abuse immediately notify Adult Protective Services, which investigates reports of elder abuse, or law enforcement authorities.

According to the California Department of Social Services, the statewide number of abuse reports has grown by 23 percent, from 75,843 in 2000-01 to 93,517 in 2005-06. Currently it is estimated that only one in five cases is reported within our state.

To report a suspected case of elder abuse, a statewide hotline is available at 1-888-436-3600.

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