A new elder abuse litigation and prevention unit within the West Virginia attorney general’s office will include civil prosecutors pursuing cases against those who exploit, abuse or neglect older adults in the state, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Thursday.
The effort also will include a new hotline and email address that state residents can use to contact the office, as well as a scam alert database that will aim to increase awareness of potential scams.
“Unfortunately, all too often, con artists, deceptive businessmen, caretakers and even family members take advantage of our elderly friends,” Morrisey said. “Such conduct cannot be tolerated.”
The unit will focus on enforcing a wide variety of consumer protection laws aimed at protecting older adults, Morrisey said, citing among the settings where potential violations can occur as memory care communities, nursing homes, automotive repair garages, hospitals and homes.
The unit also will:
- Support efforts to revoke the certification of nurse assistants who are accused of abuse and neglect.
- Represent the state’s Adult Protective Services in filing petitions for guardianship, conservatorship and attachment to help ensure that trusted individuals oversee seniors’ financial and non-financial affairs as well as clear the path for emergency medical care.
- Advise seniors about drug abuse prevention, including educating seniors about and facilitating the proper disposal of unwanted and expired prescription drugs.
- Assist seniors with pre-need funeral contracts and powers of attorney and identifying the signs of criminal exploitation and physical abuse or neglect.
- Collaborate with the state’s Bureau of Senior Services, financial institutions, community groups, local senior citizen organizations and other entities by answering questions, giving presentations and distributing information to educate seniors about various risks and how to protect themselves.
- Prosecute unfair debt collection activities, denial-of-service complaints, deceptive business practices, overcharging incidents.
- Support efforts by the state Department of Health and Human Resources to punish abusive and neglectful health service workers at hospitals.