Peterson Announces Unanimous Passage of Legislation to Protect Ohio's Senior Citizens
COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson
(R-Washington Court House), co-sponsor of Senate Bill 158, joined his Senate colleagues in the unanimous passage of legislation that aims to combat fraud and financial exploitation of Ohio’s aging population.
Across the United States, senior citizens lose an estimated $2.9 billion to fraud and financial exploitation each year—
with only 44 out of every 1,000 cases being reported to the appropriate authorities.
"The number of seniors in our communities who are financially exploited is simply staggering, and often times the criminals are the people who are closest to them," said Peterson. "I am proud to be a co-sponsor on this important legislation that will help protect many people whom I respect and have learned from my entire life."
The bill seeks to combat instances of fraud by focusing on three key components: awareness, education and enforcement. Specifically, the legislation requires interagency collaboration to develop best practices and streamline educational opportunities relating to the detection and prevention of fraud and exploitation.
The Office of the Attorney General would also be required to distribute no less than six public awareness publications each year in order to improve awareness among the general public and provide basic information on the warning signs of senior fraud.
“As a former banker of over 40 years, I am passionate about preserving the financial freedom and stability of all Ohioans–especially our seniors,” said Senator Steve Wilson, sponsor of the legislation. “While this may not eradicate elder fraud and financial exploitation, it will send a message that Ohio stands committed to providing seniors with the services and protections they deserve.”
Under the bill, an offender convicted of committing certain financial crimes against a senior will be required to pay full restitution to the victim and an additional fine of up to $50,000. All fines collected under the bill will be redirected to the County Department of Job and Family Services to be used for the investigation and reporting of further instances of crimes against seniors, or for the arrangement of protective services.