There is bad news for scammers who seek to take advantage of the elderly in the Volunteer State. A new elder financial abuse and fraud bill is going to make penalties tougher.
New legislation against elder financial abuse has grabbed the spotlight in Tennessee’s 111th General Assembly, when a bill increased the penalties and expanded the offense to include the use of a telephone or any other electronic or communication device, as reported in the Cleveland (TN) Daily Banner’s article, “Elder financial abuse leads recent legislation.”
House Bill 799 intensifies the state’s focus on crimes against the elderly.
“House Bill 799, as it was introduced, increases the penalty and broadens the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person to include the use of a telephone or other electronic or communication device,” state representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) explained.
The legislation identifies as its target the use of these devices with the intent “… of fraudulently or deceptively obtaining, or attempting to obtain … money, property or anything of value from the victim,” Howell said.
Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), who represents the 24th Legislative District, agreed with Howell’s interpretation and stressed that these types of crimes, or attempted crimes, are being reported statewide.
“According to media reports, law enforcement officials have been warning Tennesseans, especially our elderly and vulnerable adults, about potential scams targeting these groups during tax season,” Hall stressed. “Some of these scam artists will call or email, and pose as an Internal Revenue Service official, asking for sensitive information.”
Howell and Hall cautioned all state residents, “Don’t be fooled by these callers. Ask for a name, title and phone number, but don’t call back. Report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.”
Tennessee is one of many states now addressing elder abuse legislation.
The changes to these laws nationwide are a direct response to dramatic increases in the number of Americans being scammed by phone. Thieves target the elderly, who are often intimidated and don’t know that a lot of their personal information is accessible, often by the wrong sort of people. The information is used to frighten seniors into thinking the scammers know more than they do.
Reference: Cleveland Daily Banner (February 18, 2019) “Elder financial abuse leads recent legislation”