May is Older Americans Month, and it’s a time for us to honor and show our appreciation for those in our own lives: the grandparents, great grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, cousins, neighbors, friends, and more.
It’s also important that we have a conversation about how to keep our elderly loved ones safe from abuse and exploitation. Older residents deserve to live their golden years with dignity and respect, and my office is fighting to ensure they can do just that.
With more than 87,000 adults over the age of 65 residing in the District, my office is committed to helping and protecting area seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In 2019, we established a standalone Elder Justice Section to pursue civil cases and provide resources to residents about their rights, common scams, and other relevant issues.
Many older residents have faced a great deal of isolation during the pandemic and are more likely to fall victim to scams. In fact, referrals to my office of financial exploitation of seniors more than doubled over the last year.
Protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation begins by understanding the warning signs of these harmful practices. We know that for every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there may be dozens more that never come to light. My office can only prosecute cases we hear about, so increasing awareness of elder abuse and reporting is key so we can hold abusers accountable, get relief for victims, and prevent further abuse. Click here to learn about potential warning signs and actions to take to help prevent elder abuse.
This week, I also announced the resolution of three cases concerning the financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults, reinforcing the importance of reporting these crimes. These heartbreaking cases involved family members or caretakers taking advantage of older or vulnerable residents.
And last Friday, I had a livestreamed Take 30 conversation with Deborah M. Royster, Assistant Director of the Office of Older Americans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Laura Newland, Director of the Department of Aging and Community Living, about how to protect older Americans from financial abuse and scams. We discussed how children and grandchildren can help protect and support their older relatives. In case you missed it, watch it here.
Karl A. Racine
President Biden Signs Hate Crimes Bill into Law
Yesterday, I was honored to go to the White House as President Biden signed into law critical bipartisan legislation that I advocated for to help prevent hate crimes, especially those affecting the AAPI community, and keep our communities safe. The bill signing was a reminder of what we can accomplish when Republicans and Democrats work together to call out hate crimes for what they are– unacceptable–and help stop them.
As president of the National Association of Attorneys General, I’ve been working to bring state and territory attorneys general together to help raise awareness about hate and to stop its spread. This legislation includes a bill I pushed for – and got attorneys general from both sides of the aisle to support – that will help state and local law enforcement track and prevent hate crimes. And just last month, I hosted a landmark national convening on combating anti-AAPI hate with Connecticut Attorney General Tong. Through that convening and the bill signing, we’re already making important progress. But there’s still much work to do, and each of us has a role to play to help stop hate.
All District Residents 12 or Older Are Now Eligible To Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine, No Appointment Needed
On May 1, the District transitioned to vaccination walk-up sites. There are 14 high-capacity, walk-up, no appointment needed vaccination sites throughout the District. These walk-up sites are for first doses. When you receive your first dose, you will make an appointment to receive your second dose.
In addition to walk-up sites, pharmacies, clinics, and health care providers throughout the District are also administering the vaccine. These sites have their own scheduling systems.
If you are unable to leave your house, call 1-855-363-0333, and the vaccine will be brought to you.
For more information, visit coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccinatedc.
Calling on Facebook to Abandon Plans for Instagram for Kids
With a bipartisan coalition of 43 other attorneys general, I urged Facebook to abandon its plans to develop “Instagram Kids” because social media can be harmful to the physical and mental health of children and because Facebook has previously failed to adequately protect children on its platform. Research has shown links between young people’s use of social media and increases in mental distress, self-injury, and suicidal ideation. On top of that, “Instagram Kids” could violate children’s privacy and put them at risk of abuse and exposure to a variety of harmful content. For example, reports from 2019 showed that Facebook Messenger Kids—which was designed for kids aged 6-12 and claimed to have strict parental controls—had a flaw that allowed kids to talk to strangers who were not approved by their parents. We are continuing to press Facebook to prevent it from profiting off of children. Watch my interview with Cheddar TV.
WIN: AT&T To Pay $1.5M for Overcharging District Government for Telecom Services
On Monday, OAG announced that AT&T will pay $1.5 million for its failure to comply with its long-term contract with the District for cell phone and internet services and, as a result, overcharging District taxpayers by millions of dollars. We filed suit against AT&T to ensure it fulfilled its contractual obligation to provide the District government with the least expensive cell phone and data services available. Instead, AT&T knowingly invoiced the District for features, add-ons, and other services that failed to comport with this mandate, causing millions in improper charges that were paid with taxpayer funds. Now, we’re making sure the District and its taxpayers are made whole. Read more here.
WIN: Area Developer & Landlord Duo Must Pay $35,000 Penalty for Violating Lead Laws & Lead-Paint Exposure
Last week, OAG announced an area developer and landlord agreed to pay a $35,000 penalty for violating the District’s lead paint laws and misleading tenants about the presence of toxic lead paint. Lead is extremely hazardous and can cause serious and long-lasting neurological damage and complications, especially in children. We will not permit anyone to violate laws that put the health and safety of residents at risk of exposure to toxic materials. Residents in the District should know that their homes are free of lead paint hazards, and my office will work to make sure that’s the case. Read more here.