By Marc Kovac
Bankers, financial advisers and others who suspect elderly customers are being scammed would be required to report the incidents, under legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Republican from the Cleveland area, said House Bill 49 would add to provisions in state law requiring 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 creating a statewide registry of elder-abuse incidents and providing 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 toward 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 Ohio 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.
About the bill, he added, “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 ... financial.”