Aiming to prevent financial abuse of the elderly and dependent adults, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office announced last week its intention to strictly enforce a state law while educating local financial institutions about its terms.

Senate Bill 1018 became effective in January and holds California financial institutions accountable for suspected financial abuse of the elderly population, according to a press release from the office of SB District Attorney Christie Stanley. The terms of the law state that financial institutions must report any suspicious financial behavior to a law enforcement agency, adult protective services or the ombudsman.

This past Wednesday, the District Attorney’s Office issued a statement that said it will develop relationships with financial institutions all over Santa Barbara County to educate them about the bill and encourage them to cooperate in its enforcement. Not reporting the financial abuse of the elderly may lead to fines up to $1,000 or $5,000 if the failure to report is willful.

In the press release, Stanley said the law is important in preventing financial abuse, and said the District Attorney’s Office will firmly carry out the law.

“We need to ensure that we are taking all appropriate actions to prevent financial abuse of our elders and dependent adults, and that all mandated reporters are in full compliance with this law,” Stanley said.

The bill is especially relevant in the Santa Barbara area, according to the press release, because many elderly people reside in the county and are also important to the economy. Stanley said she hopes the law will help curtail financial abuse of the elderly.

“Santa Barbara County has a large elderly population and their financial security is paramount to the well-being of our community,” Stanley said. “Through timely and diligent reporting by financial institutions of suspected financial abuse of elders and dependent adults, we hope to put an end to their days of financial abuse.”