Coalition launches new screening tools to protect senior veterans from financial abuse
News: 2017 Press Release
Criminals often target senior veterans with financial scams and often seniors don't know where to turn for reliable advice. The screening tools were developed to start a discussion between the provider and client, detect scams earlier, and gather information to identify trends of seminars, including geographic areas where veterans are particularly afflicted and specific scammers who are committing multiple offenses. This tool will make it easier for those providing veterans with direct services to identify potential financial scams that have been perpetrated against veterans and report specific details about what occurred to enforcement agencies such as the Department of Insurance, Attorney General's office, and district attorney's offices throughout the state.
VBPP launched in 2016 in response to the devastating form of senior financial abuse where financial predators were targeting veterans by selling 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 senior veterans across the country, despite recent legislation in California and other states to rein in the worst practices.
"Protecting those who served our country from financial scams is one of the most important things we do," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Our department is committed to working with other California agencies to educate veterans and proud to be a part of a coalition dedicated to fighting pension poaching scams and protecting senior veterans across the state."
The purpose of these screening tools is to gather more detailed information in order to determine whether a senior veteran has been contacted by a pension poacher or other kind of scammer and to help identify any suspicious financial activity. This information is important because it can help identify possible scams aimed at taking unfair advantage of senior veterans or their spouses who are considering applying for Aid and Attendance benefits.
Since its inception, VBPP has conducted 14 local, state, and national trainings to over 725 individuals and notified and trained administrators at all licensed residential care facilities and senior centers in San Francisco. In August, the coalition received a 2017 Aging Innovation Award from the National Association of Area Agencies for Aging (n4a) for its efforts to prevent and combat senior abuse.
"We are proud to be rolling out our next phase of prevention and response through the screening tools we developed," said Assistant Director of Senior Abuse Prevention Tamari Hedani at the Institute on Aging. "Thanks to the dedication of all our stakeholders, the training we will do throughout the state to implement the tools is comprehensive and will improve detection of financial abuse to better protect veterans and strengthen the response by enforcement agencies."
The goals of VBPP are to develop a strong, collaborative communication system to respond to complaints, detect fraud, and stop scammers. Together this coalition educates seniors, family members, and professionals about pension poaching scams, including how to avoid them, and where to go for help. It also connects seniors 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.
The award-winning coalition, led by the Institute on Aging's Senior Abuse Prevention Program and funded by San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services, brings together a variety of organizations, including the California Department of Insurance, Office of the Attorney General, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, San Francisco Adult Protective Services, San Francisco County Veterans Service Office, San Francisco Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission, and the National Center on Senior Abuse to educate and protect senior veterans.
- Veterans Benefit Protection Program website: www.ioaging.org/vbpp
- 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 Senior Abuse Prevention Program: (415) 750-4188, firstname.lastname@example.org , https://www.ioaging.org/collaborations-elder-protection/elder-abuse-prevention
- Office of the Attorney General: (415) 703-5837, email@example.com, https://oag.ca.gov
- California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: (415) 974-5171, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.canhr.org
- Human Services Agency of San Francisco: Office: (415) 557-5940, email@example.com, http://www.sfhsa.org
- San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission: (415) 554-6036, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://sfgov.org/vets/
- National Center on Senior Abuse: (855) 500-3537 (ELDR), https://ncea.acl.gov/, email@example.com
- San Francisco Long Term Care Ombudsman: (415) 751-9788, https://www.sfltcop.net/
- Center for Digital Aging Article written by Tamari Hedani, MPH, Associate Director, Senior Abuse Prevention Program Institute on Aging, highlighting VBPP's efforts: http://gero.usc.edu/cda_blog/financialabuse.html
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a): Spotlight on Innovation - Veterans Benefits Protection Project: https://www.n4a.org/blog_home.asp?admin=1&Display=489
- More information for seniors and loved ones from the California Department of Insurance:
- Photos from the news conference can be found on CDI's Flickr page.
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 $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. 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.