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Senior Safe Act Aims to Protect Elderly From Financial Abuse

Jan 3, 2019

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) January 3, 2019 – The president recently signed a new federal law that urges financial service providers to train staff to better identify suspected elder financial abuse and report it.

The Senior Safe Act allows financial services professionals to fight against fraud while maintaining their clients’ privacy. The legislation modifies provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in 2010 to govern regulation of the financial industry following the 2008 economic meltdown.

The bill was first introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) in January 2017. She modeled it on the elder financial abuse prevention program in her home state of Maine. Collins welcomed the law’s passage as “a much-needed step in the fight against financial exploitation of seniors.”

Maine’s Senior Safe Program is a joint effort between financial institutions, state regulators and legal associations to train banking and credit union staff on how to detect signs of elder financial abuse and help stop it. According to the legislation’s advocates, they are often the first to witness atypical withdrawals and unexplained transfers among customers.

“Unfortunately, elder financial abuse goes unreported far too often,” commented elder law attorney Michael Gilfix of Gilfix & La Poll Associates. “There are some common red flags which may indicate an individual could be a potential victim of financial exploitation, such as unusual activity on a bank account or unpaid bills. These and other warning signs can be a cause for concern.”

The Senior Safe Act provides financial services professionals with liability protection if they report any suspected financial abuse of their senior clients to the authorities. Employers are encouraged to establish a company-wide standardized program to train staff on how to spot elder abuse.

The Senior Safe Act was endorsed by the AARP, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and other financial organizations. They acknowledged that while the legislation will not completely eliminate elder financial abuse, it can help reduce its severity and contribute to prevention efforts.

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