For Immediate Release
SAINT PAUL, MN – Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, for the third year, issued a letter to more than 9,600 licensed CPAs in Minnesota to remind tax preparers of the signs of senior financial abuse. As CPAs prepare tax returns for their senior clients, the Commissioner urges tax professionals to use their expertise to help spot elder fraud and financial abuse.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce, under the leadership of Commissioner Rothman, has made the protection of elderly and vulnerable consumers from fraud and financial scams a top priority. Each year, the number of seniors continue to grow – by 2020, there will be more Minnesotans over the age of 65 than children in public school and by 2030, one in four Minnesotans will be over 65. One additional line of defense for seniors is the ability for CPAs to spot financial inconsistencies and help their older clients who may have been defrauded get them the assistance they may need.
“Each year, we engage additional professionals to help – creating a stronger network to spot financial abuse of seniors,” said Commissioner Rothman.
Seniors control 70 percent of the nation’s wealth, making scams that target seniors like unsuitable financial products and phony investments very lucrative. The last survey conducted by the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) showed that more than seven million older Americans (one out of every five citizens over the age of 65) have already been victimized by a financial swindle. According to the IPT, con artists scam senior citizens out of $2.5 billion every year.
The most troubling trend by far, according to the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, is that upwards of 80 percent of elder abuse cases go unreported. Victims of financial crimes face barriers of embarrassment, fear, and confusion.
“Minnesota’s licensed tax professionals have the skills to see the signs that their clients may be the victims of financial abuse,” said Rothman. “As partners in the fight to stop fraud this tax season, accountants can recognize when the numbers just don’t add up, and help raise awareness of any fraud for the victims and their families.”
In preparing tax returns during 2014, Commissioner Rothman has asked all licensed CPAs to keep alert for the following signs of financial abuse in their elderly clients:
If licensed tax preparers spot suspicious activity, Commissioner Rothman asks them to encourage their elderly clients to contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Help Line.