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RALEIGH – In recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Month, NC Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall is reminding financial professionals and the public to be on the lookout for elder financial abuse, including potential exploitation by family members or caretakers. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is this Saturday (June 15).

Secretary Marshall will mark Elder Abuse Awareness Month today with remarks at an anti-fraud seminar in Wake Forest, “Seniors at Risk: 21st Century Scam Threats, Prevention and Solutions.” “Social isolation can make seniors more vulnerable to financial exploitation,” Secretary Marshall said on Wednesday.

“It’s vital for each of us to keep an eye out for the warning signs of financial abuse and report suspected abuse to authorities.” The nation’s opioid crisis is complicating the rising threat of elder abuse.

“Investment professionals may be in a position to be first responders to clients who are either struggling with opioid use disorder themselves or are being financially exploited by someone else who is struggling with opioids,” noted Secretary Marshall.

Warning signs that a senior may be at risk for financial exploitation include increased concern about finances, sudden interest in exotic investment products, caretakers removing funds from the senior’s investment portfolio for personal use, and not taking the senior to medical appointments or buying necessary medications.

Secretary Marshall suggests that investment professionals review their systems to determine if there are internal controls to handle suspected financial exploitation, and to assure that staffers understand how the opioid crisis can affect clients. Resources for helping those struggling with opioids can be found at medicinesafe.org.

The NC Secretary of State’s Office is joining the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to provide resources, including “Guarding the Guardians” to help financial professionals and others recognize and respond to the signs of financial exploitation.

Investment fraud should be reported to the NC Secretary of State’s Securities Division at 1-800- 688-4507. Other types of elder abuse can be reported to your county Department of Social Services, the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ toll-free Care Line at 1-800-662- 7030, or to local authorities.

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