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State Agencies Join Forces to Fight Financial Exploitation of Florida's Elders

1/27/2004

CONTACT: MARTHA PRATT
(850) 414-2142

TALLAHASSEE -- The Departments of Children & Families (DCF) and Elder Affairs (DOEA) announced today their continued commitment to preventing elder financial exploitation in the state of Florida by unveiling the development of a training kit to be used by financial institutions, local state attorneys, and Adult Protective Service (APS) administrators. The training kit contains a training manual, Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation: How Financial Institutions Can Help; How Financial Institution Employees Can Recognize and Report," and a video. The purpose of the kit is to provide materials needed for financial institutions, local state attorneys and Adult Protective Service administrators to train financial institution employees on how to recognize and report possible financial exploitation of elders.

"It is important that we continue to be vigilant and protect elder Floridians from any type of exploitation," said DOEA Secretary Terry White. "Too often, family members or caregivers try to financially exploit frail and vulnerable elders out of their life savings. We hope this training kit will be of help to financial institutions, local state attorneys and APS administrators in the fight against financial exploitation."

"We are committed to protecting all vulnerable Floridians from abuse," said DCF Secretary Jerry Regier. "Training and awareness measures like this are a key tool in preventing the exploitation of our citizens."

Also partnering with DCF and DOEA are the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Financial Services and Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Training kits have already been distributed to State Attorney's offices, local law enforcement, APS administrators' district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, representatives of the statewide Triad and local Triad and SALT councils.

According to Chapter 415 (Florida statute), employees of financial institutions are mandated to report suspected financial exploitation of elders. The training kit provides the following:

Ø Information about adult protection
Ø Guidelines on how financial institutions can go about establishing
reporting protocols
Ø Warning signs financial institution employees can recognize

"Many seniors spend years carefully planning and saving their hard-earned money for retirement," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services . "Partnering with financial institutions and training key staff is another great step towards preventing financial exploitation of the elderly in Florida."

"Law enforcement takes crimes against the elderly very seriously in our state," FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell said. "This new initiative is a good way to help make sure those groups who might be the first to be aware of elderly victimization know what to do and how to report it."

For more information on the Preventing Elder Financial Exploitation Training Kit, please contact the Department of Elder Affairs at (850) 414-2000.

The following is a list of programs and services provided by Florida state agencies to protect elders from abuse, neglect or exploitation:

Elder Helpline
1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337)

Florida Abuse Hotline
Florida Department of Children and Families
1-800-96-ABUSE

Florida Department of Financial
Services
1-800-342-2762

Identity Theft Resource and Response Center
http://www.myfloridalegal.com/identitytheft

Seniors vs. Crime/Senior Sleuths (Florida Attorney General's Office)
www.senior-sleuths.org