Bertino-Tarrant passes law to fight for tougher penalties on financial abuse of elders, disabled

jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – Criminals targeting Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens may soon face tougher penalties, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

Bertino-Tarrant passed Senate Bill 69 which institutes tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

“There are malicious criminals cheating our seniors every day,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this rising epidemic, we need to put laws in place to protect the financial and emotional well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

Senate Bill 69 expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception of more than $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

It also clearly states that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

Scam artists perceive senior citizens as vulnerable and relatively wealthy due to their ability to access retirement accounts and pensions, which makes them a prime target.

A 2015 report estimated that older Americans lose $36.5 billion each year to financial scams and abuse.

“It is easier to financially exploit aging senior citizens who live alone than to rob a bank,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “And unfortunately, this makes them a less risky target. It’s important that we educate seniors, family members and community stake holders so they are aware of the latest scams and warning signs of financial exploitation.”

Bertino-Tarrant urges seniors to reach out to the Attorney General’s Office to report consumer fraud scams by calling the free hotline at 1-800-243-5377 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).

Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now heads to the House for consideration.

Sen. Bertino-Tarrant

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49th Senate District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education (Chairperson); Insurance; Labor; Licensed Activities (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR); Subcommittee on Special Issues (ED) (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Lifelong educator; former Will County superintendent and secretary of Will County Regional Board of School Trustees; B.A., Illinois State University; MS, University of St. Francis; EdD., Loyola.

Associated Representatives:
Mark Batinick
Natalie A. Manley