May is designated as Older Americans Month, which was originally established in 1963 by President Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens as Senior Citizens Month. At the time of designation, only 17 million American had reached their 65th birthday, one-third of older Americans lived in poverty and few programs were available to meet the needs of elders. The theme for this year’s honorary month is Connect, Create, Contribute. Seniors represent more than 11 percent of Washington’s 713,000 residents. And while they are a vibrant part of the rich, diverse fabric that is the District of Columbia, many fall prey to financial scams.
As the Commissioner for the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, I would like to encourage elder District residents to increase their financial knowledge and avoid being taken advantage of by fraudulent companies and individuals. Did you know that 5.4 percent of older adults experience some form of fraud or scam each year?
Our mission is to protect consumers by providing regulatory supervision of the financial services, individuals and companies operating in the District, and to develop market conditions that will attract new financial services firms. Our programs and services support Mayor Bowser’s vision to put more District residents on pathways to the middle class by empowering them to make sound financial decisions. Since taking office, Mayor Bowser launched a range of innovative initiatives that support District seniors. The Protection of Seniors and Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act of 2019 will establish a mandatory reporting requirement of suspected financial exploitation for insurance companies, securities firms and banks. The Vulnerable Population and Employer Protection Amendment Act of 2017 helps the District move more quickly and effectively to eliminate financial predators.
For the month of May, my agency, the District Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, will host a variety of education programs for seniors to help them learn more about how to save, avoid financial scams and live comfortably in retirement. The Department also is promoting consumer guides and alerts on topics that include advance fee scams, payday loans, reverse mortgages and identity theft. For more information, visit our website at www.disb.dc.gov.
Together, let us all pledge to honor and protect our seniors.