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RALEIGH – One of the biggest challenges that regulators face in combating the growing problem of elder financial exploitation is lack of reporting. A new federal grant has created a secure, unified reporting platform that could open up the lines of communication between the financial industry and regulators to bring more suspected cases of elder financial abuse to light.

North Carolina is one of two states chosen to pilot this voluntary reporting platform. Development of the platform was funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant to enhance collaboration between financial firms and enforcement agencies, including the NC Secretary of State’s Securities Division. The platform will “go live” by the end of the month.

“We know that seniors are a frequent target for investment scam artists, but studies have indicated that for every documented case of elder financial exploitation, more than 40 other instances are never reported,” NC Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said on Monday.

“There’s a range of reasons for that under-reporting, from cognitive decline and social isolation to embarrassment when a senior realizes they’ve been conned,” said Marshall. “This reporting platform has the potential to be revolutionary in terms of opening and speeding up lines of communication between the financial industry and regulators in order to better protect seniors.”

The platform is designed to automatically route reports from broker/dealer firms to the right agency – be it the Secretary of State’s Office, Adult Protective Services, or local law enforcement.

The Secretary of State’s Securities Division is responsible for administering and enforcing North Carolina’s securities laws. NCSOS’s Securities Division is one of just a handful of state securities regulators around the nation that handles both administrative regulation and criminal enforcement.

Investment fraud should be reported to the NC Secretary of State’s Securities Division by calling the NC Investors Hotline at 1-800-688-4507. Investors are encouraged to call the Hotline before investing their money to find out if a broker, adviser, and investment offering is registered with the State.

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