Research to Advance Practice
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the department’s research and evaluation component, operates an active research portfolio related to elder mistreatment. The goals of the research are to improve knowledge and understanding of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation through science. From 2005 to 2015, NIJ awarded more than 20 grants totaling over $9 million that examine diverse elder mistreatment issues. While much of NIJ’s elder mistreatment research focuses on violence and victimization, NIJ also has funded projects that explore the factors that contribute to or are associated with the financial abuse of the elderly as well as the factors that promote reporting and facilitate investigation of scams and abuse. This includes research projects in the following areas:
- Financial exploitation of the elderly in a consumer context;
- Elder financial exploitation victimization: identifying unique risk factors to enhance detection, prevention, and intervention;
- Identifying risk and preventative factors for elder financial exploitation; and
- Integrating improved assessments of financial judgment: conceptual and measurement advances.
Elder Justice Website
Lastly, the department’s Elder Justice Website is a critical piece to its efforts to combat elder financial exploitation.
The department launched the Elder Justice Website (www.usdoj.gov/elderjustice) in September 2014. The website is a “one-stop shop” for prosecutors, researchers, practitioners, victims and families looking for resources to identify, report and prosecute elder abuse and financial exploitation, including common fraud schemes perpetrated against seniors. For prosecutors, the Elder Justice Website identifies relevant state laws and provides sample materials and pleadings (e.g., indictments, civil complaints, and trial pleadings). For elder abuse researchers and academics, the website provides an innovative search tool specifically designed to help identify relevant articles and scientific literature pertaining to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. For victims and their families, the website provides a wealth of information, including an interactive map which allows users to identify potential additional resources and assistance by zip code.
With regard to elder financial exploitation, the website contains information on where to report elder financial exploitation, common scenarios and examples of elder financial exploitation and training resources. Moreover, the financial exploitation section of the website contains an extensive discussion of what the latest research shows regarding elder financial exploitation, including but not limited to victim risk factors, where it occurs and its consequences. The department is currently working on a number of improvements to this section, including materials and resources on how seniors can better protect themselves against fraud schemes.
The department is fully engaged in combatting the problem of fraud targeting the nation’s seniors. As I have outlined above, many hard working dedicated prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, and others work tirelessly every day to provide creative solutions to this complex issue. Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss the department’s efforts, and I now look forward to answering any questions you may have.