Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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ELDER ABUSE UNIT
Protecting Older Pennsylvanians

Created in August 2006, The Attorney General's Elder Abuse Unit investigates and prosecutes those who cheat, deceive or abuse older Pennsylvanians.  The Unit is comprised of prosecutors, agents and support staff.  A special section within the Unit educates the public about senior fraud and teaches them how to avoid being victimized.

Elder abuse complaints are received from the toll free Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-623-2137.  Well trained staff help expedite assistance to senior citizens by providing information when the issue is not within the jurisdiction of the Office of Attorney General or by moving the referrals to the proper section within the office when appropriate.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents over the age of 65.  Statistically, senior citizens are favored targets for many kinds of consumer fraud including identity theft, charities, telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud.  The Public Protection Division in the Office of the Attorney General addresses those types of consumer complaints as well as health care issues, violations of the Pennsylvania Do Not Call Law, and numerous other subjects. 

In addition, the fastest growing segment of Pennsylvania's population is   those who are 85 years of age or older.  Frail and care dependent elderly are often susceptible to other forms of abuse, including physical and mental abuse, financial exploitation and neglect.  The Criminal Law Division in the Office of Attorney General investigates provider fraud in the Medicaid program, insurance fraud and other crimes.

Because various state agencies, local law enforcement, criminal investigators and prosecutors work together to resolve cases of elder victimization, it may be difficult to know where to report certain elder abuse concerns.  A toll free call to Elder Abuse Unit to report the abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or victimization of an older Pennsylvania citizen, can provide necessary assistance to help address your questions efficiently and expeditiously.

The Attorney General's Office believes that each of us has a role to play in preventing elder abuse and recommends the following tips for family member or caregivers to identify elderly abuse:

  • Be attentive to an elderly person's physical well-being.  Look for any abrasions, bruises, fractures, burns or any other injury - these may be signs of physical abuse.
  • Look for signs of psychological abuse such as threats, intimidation or humiliation.  Signs may include low self-esteem, withdrawal, extreme changes in mood, suicidal behavior, confusion or disorientation.
  • Be watchful of signs of neglect, such as poor hygiene, malnutrition, improper medication, or soiled clothing.
  • Look for an unusual or large bank account withdrawal.  This may be a sign that someone is exploiting the elderly person's financial resources.
  • Keep an eye out for the common signs that thy may be falling prey to a scam, such as frequent calls from telemarketers, shoddy home improvement work, numerous product purchases or ongoing charitable or religious donations.  The loss of what may seem a minimal amount of money to someone with an average income may result in an elderly person having to go without food, medication or possibly his or her home.
  • Talk about their daily activities and contacts to ensure that nothing unusual is occurring or being concealed.   

If you have any reason to suspect that an elderly person may be victimized in any way, call our toll free Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-623-2137,email us at elderabuse@attorneygeneral.gov or fill out an Elderly Abuse Complaint Form.

We also offer free presentations to senior and civic groups on a variety of topics including how to avoid scams used by con artists who often target older Pennsylvanians and the fastest growing white collar crime in America, identity theft.  To schedule a presentation call 717-787-9716 or email senioruniversity@attorneygeneral.gov.