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CA Department of Insurance

New coalition to protect senior veterans from financial abuse

News: 2016 Press Release

For Release: November 10, 2016
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New coalition to protect senior veterans from financial abuse
Key stakeholders partner to make seniors and senior facilities aware of scammers
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Elder veterans are often targets of financial crimes and many are unaware of how to avoid pension poaching scams and where to turn for help. The Institute on Aging's Elder Abuse Prevention Program is launching the San Francisco Veterans Benefits Protection Project (VBPP), a coalition to fight pension poaching scams targeting elder veterans.

VBPP is in response to the devastating new form of elder financial abuse where financial predators target veterans with the sale of unsuitable deferred annuities and dangerous irrevocable living trusts in order to qualify the veterans for government benefits. This pension poaching threatens the financial well-being of thousands of elder veterans across the country, despite recent legislation in California and other states to rein in the worst practices.

The coalition, led by the Institute on Aging's Elder Abuse Prevention Program, brings together a variety of organizations, including the California Department of Insurance, Office of the Attorney General, San Francisco Mayor's Office, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, San Francisco Adult Protective Services, San Francisco Department of Adult and Aging Services, San Francisco County Veterans Service Office, San Francisco Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission to educate and protect elder veterans.

"I have zero tolerance for those who purposefully deceive individuals, especially senior veterans, by offering false promises as part of their scam," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "These pension poachers convince vulnerable consumers to tie up their life savings in irrevocable annuities, which leaves many of them financially devastated. Our department is committed to working with these agencies to warn consumers and end scams targeting senior veterans across the state."

"Predators have recognized elder veterans as a target for financial abuse. Disguising themselves as 'volunteers' or 'advocates', they often use qualification for veterans benefits as a way to induce elders to purchase financial products such as annuities or legal instruments such as irrevocable trusts," said Neil Granger, Insurance and Annuities Expert and Consultant. "These practices, which are often illegal, may result in a veteran losing money or possibly being audited by the VA."

"Elder veterans are not ATMs; their hard-earned money and pensions are theirs to keep. Pension poaching is elder abuse, plain and simple," said Shawna Reeves, Director of Institute on Aging's Elder Abuse Prevention Program. "This new project sends a clear message to pension poachers that their unethical practices will not be tolerated in San Francisco."

The goals of VBPP are to develop a strong, collaborative communication system to respond to complaints, detect fraud, and stop scammers. Together this coalition will educate elders, family members, and professionals about pension poaching scams, including how to avoid them, to direct elders who have been scammed to resources that can help, and connect elders who wish to apply for veterans' benefits to the local County Veterans Service Office.

These preventive efforts can streamline coordination between city and state departments to more effectively respond to pension poaching scams and stop further damage to veterans' finances.   

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Media Notes:

  • Veterans Benefit Protection Program website: 
  • Veterans interested in finding out more about the Veterans Aid and Attendance program should call the San Francisco County Veterans Service Office at (800) 807-5799. This office will help veterans apply for this program at no charge. 
  • Agency contacts for more information:
Institute on Aging's Elder Abuse Prevention Program:
(415) 750-4188,
Office of the Attorney General: (415) 703-5837,
San Francisco Mayor's Office: (415) 554-6131,
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: (415) 974-5171,
Human Services Agency of San Francisco: Office: (415) 557-5940,
San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission: (415) 554-6036,  

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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