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Protections from Financial Scams Beefed Up for Older Nebraskans

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Criminals target older Nebraskans by posing as potential romantic partners, sweepstakes officials and grandchildren in need of money. (Don Hankins/Flickr)
Criminals target older Nebraskans by posing as potential romantic partners, sweepstakes officials and grandchildren in need of money. (Don Hankins/Flickr)
 By Eric Galatas - Producer, Contact
April 5, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A new state law aims to stop scams that target the financial assets of older Nebraskans.

Jina Ragland, associate state director of advocacy and outreach for AARP Nebraska, said older residents are especially susceptible to financial exploitation because they often have sizable assets and are not always able to recognize when it is happening to them.

She noted elder financial exploitation is a significant problem, not just in Nebraska.

"It's happening nationally," Ragland explained. "It's happening more and more, as our population ages. We do know it's often under-reported, and so hopefully this will be another way that we can bring light to some of these issues and stop them before they actually take place."

Ragland pointed out financial professionals often are the first to recognize that an older adult is being victimized.

The Nebraska Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act authorizes broker-dealers and investment advisers to place a hold, for up to 30 business days, on suspicious transactions in older Nebraskans' accounts.

The measure was signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts last week.

One out of five older Americans experience financial exploitation, and the average victim loses $120,000.

Ragland said scams range from criminals posing as grandchildren in need of cash, to false claims of winning sweepstakes.

She stressed it's important to remember not to let anyone pressure you into handing over any personal or financial information.

"If something is too good to be true, we would ask people to stop and pause," Ragland urged. "If it's the grandparent scam, and you have a grandchild calling, before you actually do anything, it may be hanging up the phone and then making a phone call back to the grandchild."

Older Americans make up 12% of the population, but account for 30% of victims of consumer fraud crime.

Legislative Bill 297 builds on legislation passed last year authorizing banks and other financial institutions to place holds on customer transactions in cases of suspected financial exploitation.

The new law is set to take effect in September.

Disclosure: AARP Nebraska contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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