Bill gives law enforcement new tools to fight elder abuse

Legislation coming to the state House would give law enforcement new tools to fight elder abuse.

House Bill 72, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, would give investment firms and banks immunity from lawsuits if they report suspicious activity to police.

Willard, Senate Health and Human Service Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said Friday the bill is another way to fight abuse of vulnerable Georgians.

The bill also makes it easier for police to charge personal care home operators under conspiracy statutes, which bring stiffer penalties.

Often, the officials said, banks or investment firms receive calls from elderly customers asking that money or investments be transferred to owners of personal care homes. HB 72 allows those financial institutions to report the transactions to police if they believe the customers are being coerced.

The bill, Willard said, provides “oversight in the law for law enforcement to address abuse, physically and financially” of seniors.

Kathy Simpson, advocacy director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia, said HB 72 will help stem “this financial abuse and exploitation.”