Columbus -- Bankers, financial advisers and others who suspect elderly customers are being scammed would be required to report the incidents, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Republican from the Cleveland area, said House Bill 49 would add to existing provisions in state law required the reporting of physical abuse to include financial harm and other acts against residents older than 60.
Doctors, hospital and nursing home employees, clergy and others already are required to report suspected abuse. The new bill would expand the list to include pharmacists, dialysis technicians, certified public accountants, notaries public and investment advisers.
The legislation, called the Ohio Elder Justice Act, also calls for the creation of a statewide registry of elder abuse incidents and provide increased training on the issue for caseworkers.
Dovilla said part of the impetus for the legislation was an incident involving one of his grandparents, who received a call from a scammer pretending to be the representative and asking for money.
Such scams, Dovilla said, are becoming more prevalent among older residents.
"This happens every single day, folks," he said. "That's the thing that we need to recognize. It happens a lot more in this area [State law still focuses] primarily on physical and other types of abuse, and this is perhaps the most pervasive area of expansion we've seen in the area of exploitation."
Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office handles thousands of consumer complaints annually, is supporting the legislation.
"Every single day in our office we get complaints, we get cries for help frankly, from the elderly who are being abused or someone is trying to scam them," DeWine said, adding of the bill, "It extends our concept of elder abuse beyond the area of physical abuse, because the abuse many times is mental, it's emotional and it's also frankly financial."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.
As a specialist in the area of elderly scam prevention and recovery, I applaud Rep. Dovilla and the state of Ohio for taking steps to protect elders from scammers. I wish the legislation successful passage.
Art Maines, LCSW
author, Scammed: 3 Steps to Help Your Elder Parents and Yourself