White House Initiative on Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Opening Session

Uploaded by whitehouse on 14.06.2012

>> Jon Carson: I first want to begin the day by just thanking
all of you in the audience not just for being here today but
for the work we know you do every single day back home in
your communities because community leaders working
on this issue, as we'll talk about today,
elder abuse is an issue that when you know about it,
when you are active in it, it is usually because it's
touched your life.
My boss here at the White House, Valerie Jarrett,
who would be here today if her daughter wasn't getting married
tomorrow in Chicago, wanted me to pass on how much it means to
her that all of you are here talking about this today.
It's an issue that she's dealt with in her own life with her
father who recently passed away in the past year.
So I first want to let you know that as part of all this the
White House today is issuing it's very first-ever
proclamation commemorating World Elder Abuse Day.
And we have copies of these.
[applause] And I actually want to begin the day with an "ask"
of all of you.
We have a fantastic group with you here today who Kathy
Greenlee will be introducing in a minute,
but the ask I have of all of you is to use today not just as an
event here at the White House, but as an opportunity to connect
people to this issue.
As an opportunity to spread the word.
Now, how many of you have ever tweeted before?
I see a few hands up.
Those of you who haven't, take a look at what Twitter is.
[laughter] Tweet about what you learned about today,
write about it, talk about it, grab three people at the grocery
story tomorrow or this weekend when you see them,
talk about your experience here at the White House.
Talk about what you liked, talk about what you didn't like,
talk about what you heard and what you told us.
And then I ask you that for two reasons: First of all,
I believe there will be information shared in both
directions today that will be useful to people in the circles
that you all work in in your home communities.
But I also ask you to talk about your experience here at the
White House to show that you were involved in the process.
I think one thing we can all agree on that we need more of in
the United States right now is people believing that they can
be part of the solution.
And when they see all of you as community leaders who are here
at the White House working hand in hand with the Administration
on these issues, they'll believe they can be involved in this and
be leaders as well.
So to kick off our event today, and someone who made today
possible, I'd like to invite up Kathy Greenlee,
the Assistant Secretary at HHS for Aging and the Administrator
for Community Living.
>> Kathy Greenlee: Thank you.
Thank you.
It's wonderful to see you all today.
As Jon mentioned, tomorrow is the actually day of World Elder
Abuse Awareness Day.
And we're so pleased to be here today to be able to commemorate
this event.
What we have brought together today is a fabulous partnership
that's demonstrated both here at the front and the opening
speakers but also with you in the audience.
People from the Department of Health and Human Services,
from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
the Department of Justice, as well as our partners in the
financial sector and the financial services roundtable,
that we're very glad to have all of you here with us today.
We're very glad that today has arrived, not this specific day,
June 14th, but the day that we all come to the White House to
talk about elder abuse, that's the most important
thing that about today.
[applause] We have a full house here but we want to let people
know that we have video streaming this.
That we've been able to help with partners around the country
arrange for a number of watch parties, video stream,
so we would also like to give a shout-out to those who are
watching it remotely today.
This is not a Washington, D.C.
issue, this is actually a national and international issue
and we need our partners all around the country to learn and
listen and become engaged which is what we're hoping from you
all as well.
We believe that it's important and that we will demonstrate
today federal leadership in this area of how we can work together
as federal departments and with the White House to end
elder abuse.
But our leadership will only be successful if we are engaged
with you on the ground in communities and you are engaged
with each other.
So we have attempted to structure this during lunch and
other times of the day so that you can meet each other to talk
about this critical issue for the people in your community and
the kinds of things that you can do collectively to address
elder abuse.
There are two important people that I would like to recognize
first and just recognize their contribution to this field.
The first one is Dr. Toshio Tatara.
Dr. Toshio Tatara was a pioneer in the field of elder abuse and
served from 1998 to 19 -- 1988, excuse me,
to 1998 as the Project Director for the National Center on Elder
Abuse which was funded by the Administration on Aging.
He effectively managed the collaboration of four national
professional associations and together they undertook a number
of projects to enhance elder abuse prevention efforts
nationwide including the seminal 1998 National Study on Elder
Abuse Incidents which is still cited widely today.
Dr. Totara was an authority voice on elder abuse issues both
in the United States and in Japan.
He was involved with nearly 50 projects of national
significance to the United States and to Japan and produced
over 100 publications in both countries.
Sadly, Dr. Totara passed away on April 23rd of this year.
He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.
And we would be remiss today if we did not recognize his
significant contribution to the field and honor his work
and his memory.
So I would like to just say thank you, I guess posthumously,
to Dr. Totara.
[applause] The other person we would like to recognize is
Elizabeth Podnieks -- I can say this -- Dr. Podnieks was a
founding member of the International Network the
Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Founder of World Elder Abuse
Awareness Day.
She published extensively nationally and internationally
on the topic of elder abuse and was principle investigator of
the Canadian National Survey on Elder Abuse which was
conducted in 1989.
In addition, Dr. Podnieks has long been an innovator in
raising awareness of elder mistreatment.
The field of elder abuse awareness,
prevention and response owes a debt of gratitude to
Dr. Podnieks for conceiving of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
She could not join us here personally because it's
important to recognize that this is the 7th World Elder
Abuse Awareness Day and she started it all.
So I would like to give a shout-out -- [applause] So now I
get to introduce our wonderful partners and panelists that are
here today to kick us off and I will start with Kathleen
Sebelius, Secretary to the Department of Health
and Human Services.
Secretary Sebelius was appointed in 2009 to be the Secretary of
HHS and has played a critical role, as you all know,
in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and has been
the Administration's chief advocate for promoting access to
health insurance and more broadly access to health care
whether it's for children, people with disabilities,
seniors, all people across this country who need both access to
insurance and care.
Before coming to Washington she served for six years as the
Governor of Kansas.
And I believe most people know that I have had the privilege
and pleasure of working with Secretary Sebelius for 17 years
now which continues to surprise us both -- [laughter] -- that
it's been that long.
And when you work with someone in this many different
capacities at this many different levels,
we know each other fairly well.
And this is what we would say about each other: This is an
issue we share in common.
This is an issue that doesn't surprise the Secretary when I
say I want to talk about elder abuse.
And it never surprised me that she's supportive and wants to do
what she can do to provide leadership not just to HHS but
to this Administration as we work to address this
terrible problem.
I'm proud to work with her.
I continue to be pleased to provide this type of public
service and leadership.
And just want to introduce to you all
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
>> Secretary Sebelius: Well, good morning.
>> Audience: Good morning.
>> Secretary Sebelius: Good morning.
I want to start by thanking Jon Carson on behalf of the
Administration for organizing and helping us to be here at the
White House.
I think this doesn't happen by accident.
It really is because the President considers this a
priority that we are gathered here and not in some other
agency building.
So thank you, Jon, for helping to make that happen.
We wouldn't be here without Kathy Greenlee.
She is passionate about this issue.
And over those 17 years I've learned that when Kathy cares
about something, it's going to happen.
[laughter] And I think that her work on this issue on gathering
not only our Administration colleagues,
but certainly having you here in this room is really an important
initiative and an important gathering.
And I just want to thank Kathy for her passion on behalf of all
the seniors who couldn't be in the room today but who will
greatly benefit from this dialogue.
Jim Cole from the Department of Justice is a great partner in
lots of areas.
One of the things that we get to work on regularly which also
kind of falls into this purview is Medicare fraud.
And the Justice Department and HHS have really ramped up our
efforts to go after people who would steal from the trust
fund so that we return those resources to provide
health services.
And that's a piece of elder abuse but on a little bit
different category.
But I'm so glad that Jim is here today.
And Richard Cordray who is the Director of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau not only does a great job as a
consumer watchdog here in Washington,
but did a splendid job as attorney general in the great
state of Ohio, and it's great to have Rich here.
I do want to welcome all of you to this important conversation
about elder abuse.
It's a topic, as you know, that's critically important
but really hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.
Last year we started a trend where the first baby boomers,
the generation of Americans born after World War II,
began turning 65.
And since then we have about 11,000 people a day turning 65.
Between 2010 and 2030, the number of Americans 65
and older will nearly double.
And the number who are 85 and older is on pace to grow by over
400% by 2050.
Part of that is that seniors today are living vibrant lives
well into old age, remaining active in their communities and
living in their homes.
But that means we owe it to them to ensure that they're safe and
free from abuse and exploitation.
Now, all states and communities have adult
protective systems in place.
But elder abuse still remains an under-recognized human and civil
rights issue that demands our attention.
Today we know that at least one in every ten seniors is a victim
of abuse each year.
Elder abuse can take many different forms.
It can be neglect by a caregiver,
physical abuse from a stranger, mental abuse from
a family member.
Or financial abuse from a trusted friend or a neighbor.
In one case, Mrs. Smith lived on her own but with some of the
cognitive issues that come with old age.
When she told her neighbor and friend she wasn't feeling well,
the neighbor asked what was wrong and Mrs. Smith suggested
that she hadn't been taking her medication as prescribed because
she didn't have the money she used to and was cutting corners.
So when the neighbor asked about necessities like groceries,
Mrs. Smith told her that she had been getting those thanks to a
nice young man who had volunteered to shop for her so
she didn't have to use public transportation.
Luckily that made the neighbor a little suspicious.
She pushed Mrs. Smith on how she paid the man for the groceries
and Mrs. Smith replied that it really wasn't a problem.
She just gave her friend her ATM card.
Now, cases like Mrs. Smith's are just the ones we know about.
The neighbor did turn in that case.
Research suggests that only about one case gets reported for
every 24 that take place.
And abuse goes unreported for a lot of reasons.
Seniors feel ashamed or embarrassed by abuse.
They may think that if they report abuse they'll be forced
to give up their independence.
Or they may fear that if they report something the abuse
would get worse.
That's a tragedy.
Even when seniors or others in the community want to report
abuse, they don't always know how to take action.
Right now adult protective services is handled at the state
and local level.
Some states do it very well.
But in others the ability to address this critical problem
is inadequate.
And at the same time we've never had a coordinated federal
response to elder abuse.
Programs are largely fragmented, reducing their impact on
the problem.
And federal leadership has too often been lacking in the past.
Seniors suffering from abuse often do so in the shadows.
They have few people to turn to and few places to go.
Many in our country just look the other way.
It's a big national problem that we don't acknowledge at
the national level.
Now, the Obama Administration is ensuring that this message
doesn't remain in the shadows any more.
And that's what today's event is all about,
raising public awareness of the problem so we can work together
to end it.
We've also taken some concrete steps to create the tools and
resources we need to take on elder abuse.
We supported the Elder Justice Act by ensuring it's passage as
part of the Health Reform Law.
Now, that laws has the potential to give federal government the
tools to prevent, detect, understand,
intervene or prosecute in elder abuse.
As part of the law, today we're announcing the creation of the
elder justice coordinating council which brings together
departments across government like the Department of Justice
and the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau to make sure
that elder abuse remains a priority at the federal level.
The council also will begin looking at state systems around
the country that have gotten results and start the process of
scaling up those best programs to the national level.
But we haven't stopped there.
Today I'm pleased to announce that we're putting funds behind
this important law with the $5 1/2 million initial investment
under the Affordable Care Act.
Grants will be used to test pilot innovative elder
abuse prevention programs with the most potential.
And our goal will be to use the most successful programs to
create effective methods of preventing elder abuse at the
state and local level.
Now, the Administration is taking these actions because
they're the right thing to do.
They show the nation and the international community that our
country stands for the dignity of seniors and won't stand for
abuse, neglect and exploitation.
But we have a lot more work to do.
With the massive number of unreported cases that take place
each year, we need to put an emphasis on education and
on prevention.
And that means getting elder abuse prevention resources in
the hands of the public.
It also means improving education in the medical,
financial and law enforcement communities to help them
identify elder abuse or the potential for abuse when they
see it and to take action.
Now, as a former governor, I know that states have a critical
role to play.
And I urge each of you here today and those watching across
the country to start bringing together state and local
officials, community leaders and those working with seniors in a
broad array of fields to put an end to elder abuse.
The goal is pretty straightforward.
To create a coordinated system that puts everyone on alert for
elder abuse and creates an environment where no one looks
the other way.
We've taken some big first steps and now we need to keep working
together to protect the lives and dignity of our
nation's seniors.
Again, thank you for being here today.
>> Kathy Greenlee: Thank you, very much, Secretary Sebelius.
Now when Jon opened he asked if you were tweeting,
those of you who have now learned since he asked,
I just want to point out the card that we had put out front
so that you know the hashtag that we're using today is
protect seniors.
And for those of you watching online if you want to tweet
about this that's the #protectseniors.
So I'm very pleased next to introduce to you James Cole.
James, mr. Cole, is the Deputy Attorney General for
the Department of Justice.
He was sworn in, in January of 2011.
He first joined the Department of Justice in 1979 as part of
the attorney general's honors program.
He served for 13 years in the criminal section and later was
the Deputy Chief of the Division's Public
Integrity Section.
And this is the section that handles the investigation and
prosecution of corruption cases.
He has in addition to spending time with the Department of
Justice an extensive career in private practice specializing in
white collar crime.
He has also been involved in teaching work at Georgetown
University Law Center and has also been a lecturer at the
Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.
He's been involved in government service, private practice,
and we are very, very pleased he's with you.
We want to make sure in acknowledging Mr. Cole,
because in Washington sometimes everyone's titles are very
similar, that you understand he is the number 2 person at
the Department of Justice working directly with Attorney
General Holder.
And this again reflects I think the Department of Justice's
commitment to work with this Administration and all us on
elder abuse.
Thank you, Mr. Cole, for coming.
>> James Cole: Thank you.
Thank you, Kathy.
Actually, the Attorney General very much wanted to be here
today but unfortunately he is headed to Canada where he is
going to be meeting with his foreign counterparts and
therefore it's my honor and privilege to be able to be here
and to join with my colleagues, Secretary Sebelius and Director
Cordray, and all of you to commemorate World Elder Abuse
Awareness Day.
As Kathy said it's a wonderful fact that this is here and that
we are here to talk about it.
At the outset, I want to commend Secretary Sebelius for forming
the Elder Justice Coordinating Council.
This is a critical first step that firmly demonstrates this
Administration's commitment to protecting our older Americans.
And we look forward to working with our federal partners on
the council.
It's worth noting that in anticipation of the coordinating
council, the Department of Justice with the support from
HHS began working earlier this year on developing what we call
the elder justice roadmap.
The elder justice roadmap project has already sought input
from hundreds of stakeholders from around the country in order
to help identify potential policy,
practice and research priorities in the field of elder abuse,
neglect and financial exploitation.
We expect the results of this roadmap to help inform the
coordinating council as it moves ahead in developing it's
strategic agenda.
I also want to thank Kathy Greenlee and all of her staff at
the Administration of Aging for their tireless efforts to
protect older Americans and for organizing today's events.
As Secretary Sebelius said, she is a dynamo and a powerhouse
and none of this could have been done without her.
Elder abuse is a hidden epidemic that annually impacts the health
and well-being of 6 million older people as well as their
families and their caretakers.
It includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect.
And what we're here to talk about today,
financial exploitation.
Victims come from all ethnic, racial and socioeconomic
backgrounds and sadly perpetrators of financial
exploitation are more likely to be family members
than strangers.
This type of elder abuse depletes the resources of
individuals, families, businesses,
and public programs including Medicare and Medicaid by
billions of dollars each year placing enormous burdens on our
health care, our financial and our judicial systems.
For me, and for today's Department of Justice,
protecting older Americans is a top priority that we advance on
multiple levels.
For example, in order to protect the financial integrity of the
Medicare program, as Secretary Sebelius had talked about,
both the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and
Human Services decided early on to make combating health care
fraud an enforcement priority and creating the health care
fraud prevention and enforcement action teams.
It's a lot of words so we call it HEAT.
[applause] Since HEAT began in May of 2009,
we have recovered over $8 billion in cases involving
fraud against the Medicare program and other federal
health care programs.
But we also believe that this has sent a strong and a clear
message that Medicaid fraud will not be tolerated and that
the Department of Justice and the Department of HHS will act
swiftly to stop it when it occurs.
Just as important as protecting the fiscal integrity of the
Medicare program is our commitment to ensuring our
nation's nursing homes and other health care providers are
actually providing the care and the services to which Medicare
beneficiaries are entitled as opposed to exploiting those
beneficiaries and the programs for their own profit.
And today, Tony West, the Department's acting associate
Attorney General has taken a particularly active role in
supporting these cases and later on will be discussing a
particularly egregious example of financial exploitation.
Protecting older Americans from customer scams and fraud is also
a top priority at the department.
Just this past March the department hosted an historic
consumer protection summit that brought together federal,
state law enforcement and regulators and consumer
advocates to harness our collective experiences and to
discuss strategies for enhancing our civil and criminal
enforcement of consumer fraud crimes.
We're also looking to increase the public awareness about
common schemes that ordinary citizens experience and if they
know about them they can fight back.
The Department's Consumer Protection Branch has also done
a terrific job combating consumer fraud on the elderly
as part of a broader emphasis on fraud targeting
all vulnerable populations.
We have had successful prosecutions for a number of
fraudsters who have targeted the elderly through reverse mortgage
scams and lottery scams.
And we have had enhanced public awareness about these schemes
through our collaborations with organizations like AARP.
Our health care fraud and our consumer protection efforts are
just some of the ways that the department protects our nation's
older Americans from financial exploitation.
But while we have made strides to address this form of elder
abuse, enforcement alone is not a complete strategy.
We can't simply prosecute our way out of this problem.
Everyone here today knows that the way we can be most effective
in protecting older Americans from financial exploitation is
by combining our resources and our expertise and by
collectively deploying the myriad of tools we have at
our disposal.
We need the federal agencies represented on the stage today.
We also need adult protective service workers,
long-term care ombudsman, domestic violence advocates,
geriatric specialists, the financial services industry,
health care providers, advocates,
state and local law enforcement and prosecutors and,
what has been a missing link in this area,
civil Legal Aid lawyers.
[hear-hear whistle] Legal services programs have a unique
opportunity to prevent and remedy elder abuse,
especially the scourge of financial exploitation.
For example, they can help prevent mortgage foreclosures
resulting from a family member's theft of a senior's lifesavings.
They can counsel worried, older clients about the legal options
for responding to debt.
And better yet, they can counsel them about how to avoid scams
that happen to them in the first place before they actually take
their money.
They can advise these clients on how to revoke a power of
attorney that is being used by some unscrupulous person to
exploit them.
And they can offer elders a safer future by representing
abused clients in obtaining protective orders.
While this expertise can be critical to preventing or
addressing abuse, legal service programs staff too often don't
have the specialized training on how to identify and support the
older victims needs and how to harness their existing expertise
to respond to the older victims special needs.
That's why with the essential cooperation of Legal Services
Corporation, Jim Sandman, who is here today -- [applause] -- I am
delighted to announce the Missing Link Project.
It's a new collaborative effort by the Department's Elder
Justice Initiative and our Office of Victims of Crime
and our access to Justice Initiative to develop such
training services for legal services providers.
President Sandman has pledged that when the training has been
developed it will be made available to all legal service
programs which together provide critically needed services to
every county in this country.
We are hopeful that the trained Legal Aid lawyers' efforts will
be further leveraged by private lawyers who do pro bono work
voluntarily thus increasing the overall capacity to serve
elder victims.
Jim, we thank you for your commitment.
And I also want to thank our Acting Assistant Attorney
General Mary Lou Leary and the staff of the various offices at
the Office of Justice Programs for their strong support of this
effort, too.
Too many elderly Americans are suffering alone.
And together we can change that.
We know the importance of your work on the frontlines of the
battle against elder abuse and financial exploitation.
And what you do every day makes an extraordinary difference in
ordinary lives.
I want you to know that the Department of Justice is honored
to be your partner in this endeavor.
Thank you.
>> Kathy Greenlee: Were you all shouting in the back?
I could hear you.
[laughter] Very exciting.
Thank you, Deputy Attorney General Cole.
Very exciting.
I am very pleased next to introduce to
you Richard Cordray.
Mr. Cordray is the Director of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau.
He was nominated by President Obama in July of 2011 to become
the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau and was -- became Director on January 4th
of this year.
Prior to joining CFPB, as Secretary Sebelius pointed out,
he was on the frontlines in Ohio serving as Attorney General.
And in his work in Ohio he focused on helping protect
consumers from fraudulent foreclosures.
He worked to recover money on behalf of retirees.
He really took a stand as a very active Attorney General with a
consumer lens and how he could do more work.
His consumer division saw an increased numbers of complaints
and they were more responsive as a group under his leadership.
I talked to Secretary Sebelius several months ago about our
partnership with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and
she said, I know Rich Cordray!
He'll help!
And he has.
So I want to thank you for your participation.
[laughter] [applause]
>> Richard Cordray: Thank you, Kathy.
I want to say first about my colleagues on the panel here,
Secretary Sebelius has been somewhat mentioned.
I am a friend of her family.
She had deep roots in Ohio.
Her father was governor of Ohio and one of the really
outstanding progressive governors that we have ever
had in our state.
And it strikes me as just right that she would recognize that in
attacking these issues that she would take a pilot project
approach because I think it's really important that those of
us in Washington need to recognize that just because
we're in Washington and sometimes especially because
we're in Washington, we don't have all the answers.
And the best way to know what works is to try a number
of things and see what works.
That's a very practical approach.
It's a sensible approach.
It's one that we're also trying to adapt at the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau.
And with Jim and the Justice Department I have seen them to
be great colleagues because I worked with them when I was the
Ohio Attorney General on Medicaid fraud where they were
especially effective at helping us to root out fraud,
waste and abuse in our system.
And we're glad to be working with them now on issues of
consumer fraud with the units of the Justice Department.
And I also want to especially thank him for his remarks today
about Legal Aid.
Because those of us who have worked in the community know
that one of the really unsung problems of our society is that
middle class working Americans often have negligible access to
the legal system to solve the kinds of problems that come up
in their families.
And that Justice Department is supporting and working with
Legal Aid is especially important, it seems to me.
So thank you for having me here with you today.
The events of today highlight a problem that we at the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau are working on constantly which is
the issue of elder financial abuse.
And I'm pleased to be here at the White House especially since
no sitting President has ever before given the visibility on
this issue that President Obama is giving it today.
So thank you for your support and your shared concern.
As the past few years have revealed all too clearly,
financial products have the potential to wreak havoc on
every individual consumer and on the broader American economy.
Older Americans are no exception.
And in fact, in many cases they're the specific targets of
unfair deceptive or abusive acts and practices
in the financial sector.
According to one study in 2010, older Americans lost almost $3
billion to the silent crime of financial exploitation.
We all know that our economy is in the process of recovering
from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
We cannot and will not tolerate practices that potentially
exploit older Americans.
The new consumer bureau was created with the mission of
making financial markets work for consumers.
This mission is critical for consumer credit and other
financial products and services as we all know play a major part
in our lives.
We're talking here about mortgages, credit cards,
student loans, bank accounts, debit card, debt collection,
credit reports, payday loans, and many other matters that help
shape the ways and means of how we manage our affairs.
In all of these consumer markets we're working to ensure
fairness, transparency, and accountability.
In a free market that works properly,
consumers should be able to make direct comparisons among
competing products and they should not have to worry about
being victimized by unfair, deceptive or abusive practices.
We also are working diligently to educate and engage and
empower consumers.
We want to make sure that consumers receive the
information they need, information that is accessible
and provided in plain language in order to make the best
financial decisions for themselves and their families.
No one will protect consumers better than consumers who are
able to protect themselves.
Essential to this objective is that prices and risks are made
clear up front and that key information is not hidden from
consumers or buried deep in the fine print.
While we work on behalf of all consumers,
the legislation that created our new agency expressly recognized
the needs of seniors when it comes to financial protection.
Congress has required us to have an office specifically devoted
to this mission.
Our Office of Older Americans is headed by my esteemed colleague
Skip Humphrey who is here with us today.
Skip and his team have a singular focus on
improving the financial lives of our growing numbers of seniors.
As Secretary Sebelius mentioned earlier we now have 50 million
older Americans in this country and many more reach retirement
age each day.
By the year 2030, one out of five Americans
will be 65 or older.
I'll be one of them.
[laughter] Moreover, in order to help older Americans we must
also reach out to the millions of Americans who are positioned
to be the guardians and protectors of their
aging parents.
We want to make sure that older Americans of today and tomorrow
and those who care for and about them are aware of what has been
called the signature crime of the 21st century, elder abuse,
and in particular, elder financial abuse.
The amount of money stolen from seniors has risen sharply
in recent years.
Skip served as the Attorney General in Minnesota,
as I did in Ohio.
Get us together and we can tell you horrifying stories
about these crimes.
People looted of their pension benefits,
were talked into investing much of their lifesavings in endless
varieties of fraudulent schemes.
We both heard the heartbreaking stories of older Americans who
have lost their entire lifesavings to a fraudulent
lottery or sweeps takes scam causing them to experience the
nightmare of becoming destitute and being placed in a nursing
home at the expense of American taxpayers.
I recall one man in particular who brought me a four-inch stack
of mail which his elderly mother had received just in the past
month after she signed up for one of the phony
sweepstakes offerings.
Many seniors have routines and their predictable patterns
make them easier targets for predators.
They can be lonely or overly trusting.
And we now have many methods by which perfect strangers can
communicate with them often anonymously or posing as someone
they are not.
Seniors may be dependent on caretakers who are able to
access their finances.
Abusers often assume that the victim will be too embarrassed
or too frail to pursue legal action against them.
And unfortunately that assumption too often is proven
to be correct.
We need to work together to stop this from happening.
With many older Americans suffering from some degree of
cognitive impairment, it is even more essential that
they have someone on their side, someone who will stand up for
them and fight for them.
The Consumer Bureau is taking action.
Today we're announcing an initiative to help older
Americans make good, responsible decisions when they choose their
financial advisors.
Our initiative will evaluate how financial advisors obtain
certifications that designate them as the best advisors for
older Americans.
We want to know where those designations are coming from and
we want to know whether or not older Americans and their
families can easily find out which designations
are legitimate.
Let me say clearly that misuse of these credentials constitutes
elder financial abuse.
And we also want to know more about the most common ways that
older Americans are exploited and what kind of financial
education is available to them as they choose their
financial advisors.
We will use the information we collect to inform our
policy-making process.
We want to know what is working and what is not so we can fix
what is not working.
Older Americans need to be able to take comfort in the fact that
their financial advisor is actually looking out for their
best interests.
Right now we know that too often the opposite is the case.
Some of these people call themselves experts in senior
finances after having received only a few hours
of inadequate training.
We need to distinguish between the true experts and those
engaged in predatory conduct.
This kind of accountability is essential to protecting
our seniors.
In addition to older Americans Congress also directed our new
Consumer Bureau to focus on protecting service members.
For us, that group includes all veterans,
so we will also look specifically at fraudulent
and deceptive practices targeted at older veterans
and military retirees.
We see a growing problem centered around what's called
aid and attendance of VA benefit that provides in-home assistance
for low income, severely disabled veterans.
Veterans are being advised to transfer their money into
irrevocable trusts in order to reduce their savings to a low
enough level to qualify for aid and attendance.
This often works out poorly as they may be denied eligibility
but in the meantime have lost legal access to their own
retirement funds.
We're also concerned about military pension buyout schemes.
Military retirees are offered lump sum cash payments in return
for surrendering their rights to their pension payouts.
These schemes often are very bad deals for the retirees.
We want to collect information on all these
kinds of financial practices.
Another part of our mission to stand up for older Americans is
our promotion of best practices for educating older adults about
how to manage their personal finances.
We're currently developing guidelines for programs in
senior financial education and counseling.
We're coordinating these efforts with our partners in federal,
state and local governments all across the country.
Many of whom are represented here today.
And our reach is even wider because in addition to
government officials, we're also collaborating with private and
nonprofit organizations that have the wisdom and
on-the-ground experience that comes from being in direct
contact with older adults on a day-to-day basis.
Not only do we want older Americans to know how best to
manage their finances, but we're also developing a program that
will raise awareness about the warning signs,
the red flags of fraud and exploitation.
It's important that seniors and those around
financial professionals, service agencies, caregivers,
family members and friends, be capable of identifying the
common indicators of financial abuse.
Sometimes the indicators are obvious.
Property and belongings are missing or bills are
going unpaid.
Sometimes they're more subtle, withdrawals that fly under the
radar, a suspicious signature here or there.
It's important for trusted individuals to plan ahead for
the potential incapacity of an older person they care for and
can protect.
Those individuals who create powers of attorney,
trusts or joint accounts.
These mechanisms allow them to keep tabs and be vigilant
monitors of how the senior's money is being spent.
During my time in local government we recognized that
newly unpaid property tax bills were a red flag that seniors
were in danger of losing their homes and needed help.
We went out of our way to work with them in a very personal
manner to help them rectify their situations and remain in
their homes.
From that experience I learned that it is essential for us to
reach out to the caretaker generation,
people like myself with an elderly parent.
My father is 94.
He grew up during the Great Depression and he has always
been remarkable self-sufficient both before he got married at
age 38 after his family had given up on him -- [laughter] --
and for the past 32 years as a widower.
Those in our generation need to take time to learn the best ways
to detect problems that are emerging as our parents and
other older Americans we know undergo changes through the
aging process, changes that are natural and inevitable and
cannot just be wished away.
In their golden years it's all the more important that we hold
ourselves to the venerable command of honoring our fathers
and our mothers.
If we really love them then we should do the work of figuring
out how best to protect them and their hard-earned money.
Money they have scraped to put together over the course of a
lifetime of hard work against scams, frauds and other abuses.
When prevention does not work and when people are unable to
protect themselves, we will use our powers to go after financial
service providers who prey on seniors by violating federal
consumer laws
Everyone who's willing to partner with us to do that work
is a worthy ally in this noble cause.
We will work with state attorney generals,
insurance commissioners, legislators,
and all other relevant federal, state and local officials to
protect our older Americans.
At the consumer bureau we take an all-of-the above approach to
protecting the nation's consumers and especially to
protecting older Americans.
The silent crime of financial exploiting the elderly is
widespread and it is devastating.
It is critical for us to act.
The generation that rebuilt and sustained this nation out of a
devastating depression, the dark hours of World War II and the
anxious fears of The Cold War deserve our care now
in their term.
And so I look forward to working with all of you here today as we
find the means to provide that care and show ourselves to be
the worthy heirs of their great achievements.
Thank you.
>> Kathy Greenlee: Thank you all very much for coming this morning.
Your leadership is incredibly important.
Thank you all.
>> Speaker: This is very important to all of us too.
>> Kathy Greenlee: So as we let our speakers -- [applause] How
are we doing on the tweeting?
[laughter] Okay, so the hashtag is protect seniors.
Let me give you some things to tweet about.
We are very pleased that the secretary has an editorial today
in USA Today on elder abuse.
We were not able to quickly produce copies because there's
so many of you fortunately.
But it was posted online last night.
It's been published in the print version of USA Today.
So you can tweet about that on protect seniors.
We want to make sure everybody sees this wonderful editorial
and Op-ed the secretary has published or USA Today
has published.
The secretary also mentioned funding announcement,
the 5 and-a-half million dollar funding announcement for
investment and elder abuse, prevention activities.
The funding announcement will be posted at 10:30 at HHS.gov if
people want to go look for the funding announcement.
I also want to just give a shout out -- did
Mr. Sandman (phonetic)
leave too -- he was here.
I just wanted to also mention Mr. Sandman with
legal services corporation.
He and I had a chance to meet some time ago.
I mean, this was not recently, maybe a year and-a-half
ago or so.
And I kind of came out to him as a once and forever
legal aid lawyer.
And that is how I also have been exposed to issues of elder
abuse, in many aspects of my career,
but certainly when I was a legal services lawyer.
So we are very pleased with the announcement from the Department
of Justice, continuing to work with legal services corporation
and their providers.
I know personally and professionally the role of
lawyers in helping seniors.
So, I'm very pleased with, so far with what we've been able
to accomplish today.
There's more to come.
We are going to switch, and we have a video to show you.
And then we have a speaker and then we'll pull up a panel and
be able to give you some more detailed information about
what's going on in terms of prevention.
So, let me turn it over I think to the video.
And this is the video -- it's called One Scam Away.
It's courtesy of the Senior Resource Center of Colorado.
It's a part of the National Council on aging's one campaign
away, one away campaign, excuse me for elder financial security.
So we'd like to thank NCOA.
NCOA plays a critical role here in Washington and across the
country advocating to seniors.
So I present to you the video.
(Video playing)
>> Speaker: Well, my sister, she started receiving information by
phone and by mail from Jamaica, that she was sending money every
month to Jamaica on this fraud.
I immediately went right after that afternoon to her residence
and talked to her about it and she admitted what she was doing.
She was sending the money and that she was going to get
$2 million.
I was made aware that the Arvada Police Department had checked in
on the case.
>> Don Sikkema: Had her brother not got involved,
the Jamaicans would have cleaned her out.
They do not stop until they have every last dime or nickel.
And, they would have just cleaned her out.
Fortunately, he did get involved even though a vast amount of her
money was gone, he got involved toward the end and was able to
save what little she had left.
>> Speaker: My sister's economic situation is compromised right
now until my son and I are able to adjust some of the accounts
that she has or go through bankruptcy.
Income from Social Security to pay her living expenses and try
to pay any debt there is physically impossible.
So I think bankruptcy is in the cards, very, very, soon.
>> Scott Storey: Usually what we tell people if it looks
too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
What they need to do is and many times it's difficult because
that person, that senior citizen is convinced that because these
scammers are very -- they do a lot of grooming and they are
good at this, they are convinced that this is going to be good
for them, good for their families.
A lot of times they are doing this for their families,
leaving money behind for their families.
Then it's -- a family member needs to be aware of what is
going on, ask the right question, and then seek help.
Go to a law enforcement agency, because you'd rather be safe
than sorry.
>> Don Sikkema: The bad news is we still have dozens and dozens
of friends or family members who find out about the scam.
And oftentimes the seniors don't call me because they are
embarrassed or they don't want anybody to know they have
been scammed.
But a friend or a relative will call me and say, wow,
this is what happened.
I'll contact them, give them some information.
But sadly, the money is gone once it leaves this
country in a wire.
>> Speaker: If you have a senior citizen,
you have to stay close to them, know what they are doing.
And it's hard.
They do not want to give up their independence.
And they shield from you.
But you can't let that happen.
You've got to move in, and if you sense something as I did,
check it out, intervene.
It might be hard, but it's the best thing to do.
I wish I had been there sooner.
>> Speaker: Thank you, thank you very much.
Again, that was a video that was brought to us,
courtesy of the National Council on Aging.
So we are very pleased.
I next have the pleasure of introducing our next couple
of speakers.
I've been making the rounds and asking the same question,
and you'll get a sense of this theme.
My general question is will you help?
And everyone keeps saying yes.
And the next person that I'm pleased to introduce is one of
those people that I had a chance to meet with, Carolyn Colvin,
many months ago, and she and I've met on a couple of
occasions to talk specifically about what we can do to
work together.
Carolyn Colvin was confirmed by the U.S.
Senate as President Obama's nominee as deputy commissioner
at Social Security in 2010.
She has served in this capacity as chief operating officer at
the Social Security Administration,
is a member of the President's management council and is a
secretary of the Social Security Board of Trustees.
Before being appointed today these positions at Social
Security also worked in other policy positions at SSA.
She comes to us from the State of Maryland,
where she worked in the State of Maryland and is someone who's a
true reflection of a person who's seen the issues on the
ground, both locally at a state level and now federally.
I know from working with Carolyn that she is deeply committed to
this partner and working on these efforts.
We put in your folder today, information,
fact sheet about the Elder Justice Coordinating Council
that Secretary Sebilius has announced.
And I would just point out in the membership of the council
that we've identified that a critical partner at the federal
level and working on elder abuse is the Social
Security Administration.
So I'm very pleased to join Carolyn Colvin -- please join me
in welcoming Carolyn Colvin this morning.
>> Carolyn Colvin: Good morning.
It's so great to see so many of you here this morning.
I want to first thank Assistant Secretary Greenlee for her
leadership on this very important effort.
Her steadfast leadership and heightening the awareness
financial exploitation to seniors is just so great.
I have had the opportunity to meet with her and talk with her
about a number of issues and I was very pleased to have the
opportunity to work with her on this initiative.
And it is so rewarding to see the federal partners
come together.
Again, again this happened under Secretary Greenlee's leadership,
and I was surprised last night to learn of the role of
financial community.
So I really want to thank the financial leaders for their
participation and their involvement.
You really ought to be commended for your proactive work in
trying to address this problem.
And I believe that this is really the time to do it.
It is, I think one, of the outpassions in the Social
Security Administration to assure that our seniors have the
benefits that they are entitled to so we work very hard to
ensure that we get the right benefit and the right amount at
the right time to the individuals and we certainly
then wants to ensure that that benefit is used for their own
welfare and not used by other individuals.
I'm going to share with you just very briefly some of the
strategies that we have initiated within the social
security administration to try to protect our beneficiaries
from financial exploitation.
You may be surprised to know that we administer $60 billion
each month to 60 million beneficiaries.
So, over a year we are putting out well over $720 billion.
Now all of that is not to seniors but a significant
amount of it is.
We provide service to over 65% of all seniors who are over the
age of 65.
As you well know many of our seniors rely totally on Social
Security for the benefits they receive,
for the resources that they are going to need just to take care
of their basic living expenses.
I'm pleased to say that there's very little incidence of fraud
in our programs.
But unfortunately, there are instances of
financial exploitation, and from our perspective any
instance of financial exploitation is too much.
Let me talk a little bit about some things that we have been
trying to do, to address this, I would say horrible issue,
and at the same time uncover any fraudulent activities.
One is the desire to protect the personal identifying information
of our recipients.
We call it PII.
But it's so critical that we help individuals understand the
importance of not giving out their personal information.
We certainly make sure that within the agency we are
protected, our staff are not even allowed to access records
until they have a need to do so.
So we recognize that with the age of electronics that this is
a very challenging area for us, but we work very hard to protect
beneficiary PII.
We have very stringent policies in place,
very clear procedures in place regarding handling PII.
We have severe penalties if those policies and procedures
are not followed.
The senior population is very vulnerable to these scams and
deceptive promotions as our previous speakers
have indicated.
I know that you hear about some of the horror stories
in the media.
We try to get out front of that so that our staff are working
with seniors with caregivers, advocates to remind them not to
share personal identifiable information like the date of
birth, social security numbers.
And now everybody asks you for your social security number.
But in some instances, you really need to question
their need for that.
We remind them not to give out their Medicaid claim numbers or
bank account information.
We urge them to keep their personal information in a safe
place, not to write it down, and have those documents all
over the place.
And trying to remember your pin numbers,
I know how difficult that is.
But you've got to figure out how to do that.
And for us if it's difficult you can imagine how difficult it is
for the seniors.
And to take the time to shred personal documents and not just
put them out for trash where they are subject to be retrieved
by people who are of ill intent.
These may seem to be small things to do,
but they are very important.
And if you don't do them you'll find very quickly that you can
in fact fall to financial exploitation.
We have a very special initiative that we are focusing
on for seniors who are 100 years of age and older which is our
centenarian review initiative.
It was interesting because we taught our seniors so well not
to give out information.
When we learned that we had over 40,000
individuals on our rolls who are 100 years of age and older,
we thought in order to be able to make a personal
contact we would start by calling them on the phone.
[laughter] We were very pleased to find out that when we called
them they said we don't know you and they would hang up.
So we taught them well.
But that then meant that we had to have personal contact with
all 39 plus thousand of them to determine, first of all,
that they were still alive; second,
to make sure that the information that we had,
such as their mailing address and things of that nature,
were -- those pieces of information were correct.
And then to see if any of them were at risk and may need a
representative payee or someone to help them to
handle their affairs.
You know, many who are 100 years of age and older are able
to handle their own affairs.
And of course, not any surprise to you,
some of us who are less than 100 probably need some help with
managing our affairs.
But we are doing that initiative.
And as resources allow us to reduce that age, we will.
But right now, we are actually making personal contact with
everyone who is on our roles who are 100 years of age and older.
Did you realize that we have that many people on Social
Security, 39 plus, almost 40 thousand?
And really the main effort is, one,
to make sure that they are well, and that they are able to handle
their own affairs.
And this is going to make it even more important now.
And as we are getting totally away from paper checks and the
money will be going into direct deposit,
the opportunity for fraudulent activity or for financial
exploitation is even stronger.
The second effort which is one of our largest efforts is our
representative payee program.
And this is a program that provides for the financial
management of benefits for individuals who are enable to
handle this for themselves, we have about 5 million
representative payees on our rolls,
not nearly enough when you think about the fact that we
have 60 million beneficiaries.
So we certainly are always looking to find suitable
representative payees, and again I know you've read some of the
media reports where even representative payees,
that we check out tend not to do the right thing.
We really rely on the community members and other family members
who suspect that something is not being done, should be,
to call us, you know, we have a hotline.
Also if you don't want to be identified,
you don't have to be.
And we can then go out and investigate and make sure that
nothing inappropriate is happening there.
Many of the responsibilities of the payees are to really just
assist the individual in paying current and foreseeable needs
and to probably save their benefits and to utilize them to
meet their current needs.
You know that often it's a family member who is involved in
the financial exploitation.
And unfortunately, the majority of our representative payees are
members of family or family members.
So we cannot assume that just because it's a family member
that they are going to do the right thing.
Even at the local level when I was standing with elder abuse,
physical abuse, I was surprised to learn that it was often the
family member who was committing that activity.
So, we cannot assume that it's just someone who's a friend or
someone who has stepped in because they care about
the individual.
We partner with government and nongovernment organizations to
assist those with the rep payee effort.
So I've been working very closely and throughout
the country.
You know we have ten regions.
So we have been working very closely with those offices
to help us find suitable beneficiaries.
Whenever I go to a field office I ask to meet with all of the
stakeholders in the community.
Usually they are representatives of ages,
organizations or disability organizations,
homeless organizations, substance abuse organizations.
Any group in the community who cares about the residents,
to talk to them is usually a listening session just to hear
from them what they think we need to be doing to better
protect the individuals that we serve,
to address any concerns or problems that they have.
Living in a 5 plus building, every day I get a Social
Security issue, and I say it's not necessary that I know the
answer, I just know where to find the answer.
So we always try to come back and tell them what they
need to do.
I'm pleased to announce our new effort where we have a
collaborative effort with the administration on community
living with Secretary Sebilius and the National Alliance for
Mental Illness who will also be trying to assist us
in this effort.
And I also solicit your help, because we really need to find
more representative payees throughout the country.
And I know many of you are here from various parts of
the country.
This effort will help us to really locate volunteer
representative payees, but we do also accept
organizational payees.
There are groups who are involved in providing human
services, et cetera, at the local level.
And they often come in and, there is a fee available to
those who are organizational payees.
In July 2012, we will launch the webinar,
social security needs your help to find good
representative payees.
So we hope that you'll be aware of that and that you
will act accordingly.
And our goal is just to educate communities to this very
difficult situation, and also, to help individuals contact us
when they see individuals in the community that they believe
might be in need of a payee.
And also, we will hope that that webinar will get more people to
report suspected cases of abuse.
Other collaborative efforts, I'm very pleased that without
ongoing discussions that brainstorming sessions with the
administration on aging and now the staff of administration on
community living, that we are trying to identify mutual
business processes and commonalities where we might
be able to better leverage our resources.
We are looking for better ways to share information among our
agencies at the service delivery level to ensure that our staff
are equally aware of signs of potential exploitation.
You know, we have an OIG hotline,
but we find that our first offense against abuse or fraud
is through our employees who interact and suspect that
there's something not quite as it should be and it will call
the hotline and refer cases.
So, we would do that on an ongoing basis.
We also are exploring joint training opportunities to help
in recruiting the payees, but also in identifying
fraudulent activity.
We are looking for ways to work more closely with you at
the local and state level.
I came out of local and state government, you know,
government is somewhat removed from what's happening
on the ground.
Certainly at the federal level, so we really rely on you at the
local and state level.
How many of you are community leaders other than government?
Most of you?
So, we need you too.
And I'm very, very, pleased to learn what you are doing in the
financial community.
We are excited with that.
If you think of ways that Social Security can become more
involved with you we would like you to do that.
So, in closing, I want to remind everyone that if you suspect
fraud and abuse, regarding Social Security's benefits,
we encourage you to contact our Office of the Inspector General.
Let me give you that number, it's 1-800 269-0271.
Again, I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to join
me today.
Again, I want to thank Kathy for our leadership.
And I would just like to leave you with a quote,
Margaret Mead which is never doubt that a small
group of thoughtful, committed individuals can
change the world.
It's the only thing that ever does.
So it only take one of you to make a difference.
So with the spirit of collaboration and the level of
commitment that I see here today,
I am confident that we will make a difference.
[applause] Thank you.
>> Kathy Greenlee: Thank you, Deputy Commissioner Colvin.
It's good to see you.
Well, we mentioned earlier and something that you all
recognized, but I think is worth repeating that elder view and
some financial exploitation of elders is not a federal issue.
It's a national issue, it's an international issue.
And if we are going to tackle, prevent and respond to financial
exploitation, we must engage with the financial
services sector.
So I'm very pleased that you all from financial services,
banks and other brokerage firms are here today.
I had the opportunity last fall to meet with Steve Bartlett,
Mr. Bartlett is the president and CEO of the financial
services roundtable.
He's served in that capacity since June of 1999.
Previously he served as the Mayor of Dallas, Texas,
and also on the Dallas City Council and served for eight
years in the United States Congress.
I'm very pleased that Mr. Bartlett is here today and
he's going to introduce our next speaker.
Thank you for joining us.
>> Steve Bartlett: I must say, I think, Madam Secretary,
your support, your leadership and your pushing this issue to
help us all make a step forward and commissioner, governor,
I've appreciated your kind words and your recognition and saying
out loud and verbally that in fact the front lines and the
back lines or those of financial service,
providers themselves who set out every single day with a total
commitment to protect your customers and to protect our
family members, our community members and our customer,
because we are the keepers of the vaults.
That's where the money is, and the bad guys, the fraudsters,
the thieves, that's where they want to get.
So our job, that we recognize and,
in fact set out every day is to prevent that and avoid that.
So, a couple of years ago when financial services roundtable,
as a trade association with your technology partner,
up [inaudible] again to engage in this we set out to identify
both what's happening, what else can happen,
what needs to be done to prevent and further prevent
financial exploitation.
And we made -- my purpose here is to introduce a CEO of Wells
Fargo financial advisers as a way of describing what we
discovered then, today, and what we'll be doing over
the next several years.
What we discovered and is pretty astounding is that of our
hundred companies, which are the largest about 70% of the retail
activities of the financial activities of this country,
every single one of them had then and has now a robust and a
determined and a total commitment to preventing
financial abuse, particularly -- with our elder customers because
we realize that that is both our obligation,
it's the right thing to do and is something that we take
quite seriously.
Indeed we provide the education, the prevention,
the identification, the intervention,
and then the reporting that abuse to law enforcement
agencies and to appropriate agencies.
And we take that role very seriously.
We started by surveying our hundred companies just to find
out kind of what are they doing and what else has to be done.
And I can tell you that every single one of them responded
with a specific, a plan, and a quite proactive and aggressive
program for this activity.
Many of them are here today, TD Bank, Comerica, Bankwest,
Sunday Trust, Principal.
And others.
And if I didn't see you, well, then that means I still love you
very much, I just didn't see your name tags.
But there was not an exception.
We didn't find a single company that didn't have a totally
committed leadership -- from the leadership.
And then one thing that we discovered was that there was
all of my CEO's are equal, but one is more equal than
others in this case.
And that we discovered an individual who is quite revered,
one of an icon in the financial advisers industry has put
together a lead with the visionary status,
rather nominal organization investing $1.2 trillion,
quite well by the way of client's assets.
Danny Ludeman -- a lot of other things to do because he's got
$1.2 trillion to watch over.
But he had made a personal and a quite robust and strong
commitment both on his own behalf and on behalf of Wells
Fargo financial advisers to make sure that we do it right,
to make sure that every single opportunity to protect those in
investment, those assets of our elderly clients that we are
going to set out to do.
He has 18,000 financial advisers that work with him.
I would dare to say, that Danny, every single one of them knows
of your commitment to preventing financial exploitation of the
elderly customers.
Also has a commitment to just community services in general.
Last year Wells Fargo financial advisers,
this one segment of Wells Fargo donated $12 million to
charitable organizations and provided 98,000
volunteer hours to 600 charities.
They organized -- they have organized and operate training
and informational content for the prevention of elder,
financial abuse, and they have hosted countless regional
seminars and continue to do so around the country to make
certain that every one of those 18,000
financial advisers understands that -- while they
are doing their day job of increasing the assets of their
customers, they also have to do that job of making sure that
they are protected from financial exploitation.
So I present to you the CEO of Wells Fargo financial advisers,
a man with a total commitment to this, Danny Ludeman.
>> Danny Ludeman: Wow, thank you, Steve.
That was a very nice introduction.
It's an extreme honor for me to be here with all of you.
I didn't realize there are so many people in the room sitting
in the front row here.
And it's also nice to be among so many mid westerners that are
here today.
I live in St. Louis, Missouri now with my family.
I've moved there about five years ago from
Richmond, Virginia.
My Mom was extremely happy because I was born in
Columbus, Ohio.
She was glad that I was going back to my mid western route.
So I'm a buckeye through and through.
But it is a -- it's an honor really for me to have the
opportunity to spend some time with you today on behalf
of our whole company, Wells Fargo and our 270,000
teammates that are located across this great nation.
As one of the largest financial service's company,
we serve 70 million customers and clients.
That's one out of every three households in America has a
relationship with Wells Fargo, and so as you might imagine,
as Steve said of elder abuse is one we are keenly focused on and
I want to thank as other have done,
Secretary Sebilius and Greenlee for both their foresight and
leadership in organizing this wonderful gathering.
We really have the opportunity today to do
something extraordinary.
And that's establish a new partnership,
a national partnership that addresses a very pressing social
issue that affects some of our nation's most
vulnerable citizens.
This is also an issue that's very near and dear to my heart,
because my grandmother was a victim of elder fraud,
90 year old grandmother that lived in southern Florida.
My grandfather passed away about 20 years before this occurred.
Very -- he was a very successful business man.
Left her with a wonderful retirement, if you will.
But unfortunately, the caregivers that had been
so-called caregivers, had been taking care of her for over 20
years, depleted all of her resources, every single penny.
And she came and lived with us for the last five
years of her life.
So like you, I know that you also probably know so many
people that have been affected by this.
So given what is at stake, it's essential for us to work
together to advance a national agenda to protect the financial
safety of older Americans.
And it's not just a matter of protecting their money,
it's also about making sure we are protecting their hopes,
we are protecting their dreams.
And protecting maybe most of all their dignity.
And so it's wonderful that we have so many here
from vital response organizations with us today.
In the service's industry, this issue is becoming even more
urgent as we serve an aging generation of more than some 70
million baby boomers, many who are already caring
for elderly parents.
And as each of our panelists mentioned earlier,
this is already a very big problem.
And its sheer size I think belies the impact on the lives
of real people.
Many who will be clients who we work and interact with every
single day who look to us and other bank and financial
services firms for help when they have been victimized.
Unfortunately, those who commit this type of crime have more
tools at their disposal today than ever before,
and they are finding lots of new ways to use them.
Lately for example, there's growing evidence that scammers
are targeting older investors with self directed IRA's,
it's a big problem.
And it's also disheartening that this type of abuse doesn't occur
despite the regulatory focus, the robust tools, training,
and policies that are in place that Steve mentioned at most
banks and brokerage firms.
You see we have excellent systems in place for addressing
employees who violate their responsibilities.
But one of the things I think we need to talk about,
one of the big dialogues we need to have collectively,
and one of the things we need to consider is whether privacy
laws, fears of liability, or restrictions on actions might
sometimes prevent needed action when the elderly are victims of
scams or even worse victims of family members and caregivers.
So I do hope we'll be able to spend some time on that
particular topic, because sometimes we see a lot of things
happening and we are not able to do something about it because
somebody is conflicting actions that are out there.
So as institutions that have entrusted with our
clients' financial assets, financial services companies
have a major responsibility to address this issue.
And we are committed at Wells Fargo to do everything in our
power to make certain that we are not only advising,
not only serving, but we are also protecting older Americans
as we need to.
And quite honestly, as they deserve to be.
At Wells Fargo advisers, we have lots of elderly clients.
Some of you might find this statistic interesting,
more than half of our clients are 60 years old or older.
So this is clearly a matter of tremendous concern for us.
And I want to just share with you a couple of things that
we've been doing to address this issue.
About two years ago we established a legal response
team which works with all of our financial advisers in all 50
states who raise concerns about possible cases of elder
financial abuse reflecting the extent of the problem,
or maybe another way to put it, would be reflecting the growing
awareness of this problem.
This team now handles 60 new reports each month,
and that's growing very, very, fast, unfortunately.
And when they find that the adviser's concerns are
warranted, they see a request for, you know,
money being wired out to one of these programs you heard about
on the video.
This team engages with adult protective services to
investigate and address the situation,
and we welcome the chance to share more about this program
with any other form, with any other firm or organization
that's really interested in knowing how it works.
You learn an awful lot by being kind of at the epicenter of
really where the money is as Steve mentioned.
In addition, last year we launched a series of symposiums
in eight cities around the U.S.
that brings together members of lots of different groups,
public, nonprofit, legal law enforcement,
and financial services, much as what we are doing here today to
really build a collaborative response to elder abuse in each
of our local communities.
These are just some of the initial steps that we are taking
on a path that we need to keep following.
And today, I'm very pleased to tell you that Wells Fargo will
soon complete a memorandum of understanding with the U.S.
Administration on Aging to work at a partner in training
initiatives that will help create a national response to
elder financial abuse.
It's a big deal for us.
[applause] We've been working on this for a long time and we are
very pleased to announce this.
This effort with the AOA underscores I think our
company's determination to eliminate this threat to the
financial safety of our elders What's more,
Wells Fargo is also working on a commitment with
other elder services organizations to support,
not only the creation but the distribution of training
programs for adult protective services staffs across the
country as well as we've established a website where
older Americans and their families can quickly find local
services to respond to their concerns about financial
abuse or fraud.
Additionally, I'm also happy to report that Wells Fargo and
company, about two weeks ago made prevention and elimination
of elder financial abuse one of its top corporate priorities
across all of its businesses, not only the one that I run,
Wells Fargo advisers.
As you might imagine this is a multifaceted effort.
It includes enhanced training, communication,
as well as a new elder financial abuse component in a program
that's been very successful at our firm
called hands-on banking.
This is a financial education curriculum.
We feel a great responsibility to increase financial literacy.
As a lot of you know, more people spend time each
year planning their summer vacation than they do on
their financial matters.
And so this program goes a long way in providing financial
education in communities across America.
So in effect, by incorporating this initiative at the Wells
Fargo level and incorporating some of this,
the components of elder financial abuse,
we are mobilizing more than a quarter of a million Wells Fargo
team members in all states across the largest branch
network that exists in America.
[applause] So we are very excited about that.
[applause] I also want to acknowledge one individual in
the room today who works very close with me,
who's a good friend of mine.
I've known him pretty much all his life.
And that is Bob Mooney.
Bob Mooney is one of our most senior executives,
Wells Fargo advisers.
He's a senior managing director.
He heads up the compliance area for us.
He does a lot more than just that,
his kind of official title.
But without Bob Mooney's efforts over the last ten years we would
not be as a firm where we are today.
And I just can not thank him enough for all that he's done.
[applause] So, you know, we hope that these programs will truly
make a difference and we are truly encouraged that so many
institutions are focused on this issue.
And I think this gathering taking place at the White House
at a setting like this underscores not only the urgency
of the problem, but it also underscores the nation's
commitment really to solve this problem.
For those of us in the financial services industry,
we know that the bottom line can never ever again refer to
just the income statement.
For us, the bottom line always, always has to be serving the
best interest of those who have entrusted us with their savings,
and who look to us to help them to literally achieve their
life aspirations.
And the insights that we share here today can literally
be life changing.
So in closing, I just want to thank all of you so much for
being here, for your time, your creativity,
and most of all your energy, because this is going to require
a lot of our energy to solving this problem.
And I'm absolutely convinced that by working together,
all of us working together, we will find a way that older
Americans enjoy the financial security that they work so hard
to create in the first place.
Thank you very much for giving me some time.