Politics & Government
2:16 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Zoeller, Lanane look to boost consumer protection for seniors

State lawmakers say legislation moving through the General Assembly will strengthen Indiana’s consumer protection efforts of senior citizens.  Both legislators and the Attorney General say they’ve found a gap in the law they hope the bill will address.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Listen to Brandon Smith's story on new consumer protection legislation for seniors making its way through the Indiana General Assembly.

Last year, the number of consumer complaints of financial exploitation received by Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office increased by more than 9% among Hoosiers age 55 and older.  And with the average age of Hoosiers on the rise, Zoeller says he’s expecting that number to continue to increase. 

Anderson Democratic Senator Tim Lanane says he and Zoeller have crafted legislation to address a shortfall in the state’s senior consumer protection efforts.

“The senior may have, on the surface, voluntarily given up control of the property,” Lanane said, “but it might be under false pretense, it might be because of the intimidation factor but it’s hard to get, say, the local prosecutor to come in and assist because they don’t feel it rises to the level of a crime.”

Lanane’s bill provides greater avenues in civil court for seniors to recover money and property, including increased participation by the Attorney General. 

Zoeller says these cases often occur between family members or caregivers and his office can help mediate those disputes before they get to court.

“But we need to have some remedy to go to court and have a judge make a judicial determination and that’s what’s really missing that this statute would address,” Zoeller said.

The legislation already passed the Senate and is now up for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee as early as this week.