Pennsylvania Educates Doctors to Spot Financial Abuse of Seniors

To help fulfill its duty to protect elderly Pennsylvanians from financial fraud, the Pennsylvania Securities Commission is promoting an innovative program to help protect seniors from financial abuse. Because of the susceptibility of elders to mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, they are at particular risk of being the victims of unscrupulous financial practices, and bilked out of their money and other assets.

Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Program

The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Program, known as EIFFE, is a joint program of the Investor Protection Trust, the North American Securities Administrators Association and the National Adult Protective Services Association, working with major national medical groups like the National Association of Geriatric Education Centers and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Major contributions to the program came from Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine, including development of a pocket guide for doctors listing characteristics and symptoms typical in those seniors at risk of financial exploitation, as well as suggested questions for these patients.

In addition to Pennsylvania, roughly half the states have implemented EIFFE.

Scope of the Problem

In June 2010, the IPT announced the findings of a major national survey on elder investor fraud. The survey found that 7.3 million citizens over 65 had been financially victimized - about one out of five. Not surprisingly, about one-third of the elders surveyed had characteristics making them particularly vulnerable to financial abuse:

  • Financial responsibility for a spouse, or adult son or daughter
  • Isolation
  • Bereavement
  • Depression or other mental impairment
  • Dependency on another for personal care

Over one-third of the seniors surveyed reported being approached by persons who were "calling me or mailing me asking for money, lotteries, and other schemes." Unfortunately only 19 percent of adult sons and daughters thought their parents were the recipients of such solicitations. This pattern of younger family members not always spotting these types potential risks to their elders supports the need for the EIFFE doctor education program

EIFFE in Pennsylvania

According to Pennsylvania Securities Commissioner Steven D. Irwin, EIFFE provides information through Continuing Medical Education classes to primary-care doctors who serve the elderly - like family practitioners, internists and geriatricians - to help spot signs of financial exploitation in routine patient visits. Physicians who suspect financial victimization of older patients can report this information to state adult protective services or the PSC, which has the power to investigate illegal investment practices.

If your loved one is a senior citizen who has been financially victimized, or if you are an elderly person in crisis because you have been the victim of financial abuse, consult with an experienced elder attorney to help you understand your rights and potential legal remedies.