The Senior $afe Act, based on a highly successful program pioneered by Maine financial institutions, will help prevent seniors from becoming victims of fraud
Washington, D.C. – The Senior $afe Act, a bipartisan bill authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to help protect American seniors from financial exploitation and fraud, passed the House of Representatives as part of a bipartisan banking reform package after previously passing the Senate in March. Their legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
As the Chairman and former Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, Senators Collins and McCaskill introduced the Senior $afe Act last year. Their bill will provide support to regulators, financial institutions, and legal organizations to educate their employees about how to identify and prevent financial exploitation of older Americans.
“As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, I have been committed to fighting fraud and financial exploitation targeted at older Americans,” said Senator Collins. “The Senior $afe Act, based on Maine’s innovative program, will empower and encourage our financial service representatives to identify warning signs of common scams and help prevent seniors from becoming victims.”
According to the Government Accountability Office, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually. These frauds range from the “Jamaican Lottery Scam,” to the IRS impersonation scam, to the financial exploitation of seniors through guardianships. The Aging Committee held a hearing earlier this year to update the public about the committee’s efforts to combat scams targeting older Americans as well as unveil its 2018 Fraud Book.
Current bank privacy laws can make it difficult for financial institutions to report suspected fraud to the proper authorities. The Senior $afe Act will address this problem by:
- Encouraging banks, credit unions, investment advisors, broker-dealers, insurance companies and insurance agencies to report suspected senior financial fraud; and
- Protecting these institutions from being sued for making reports so long as they have trained their employees, and make reports in good faith and on a reasonable basis to the proper authorities.
The Senior $afe Act has been endorsed by numerous stakeholders, including AARP, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), Transamerica, and LPL Financial.
“I want to thank Senator Collins for her leadership. This legislation incentivizes financial service institutions, including those in the securities industry, to train key employees on the identification and reporting of suspected financial exploitation of seniors. This is a significant and important tool in the ongoing efforts to protect senior investors,” said Judith M. Shaw, Maine Securities Administrator and chair of the North American Securities Administrators Association’s Committee on Senior Issues and Diminished Capacity.
“We know from our proven success with Senior Safe in Maine that education of financial services professionals is a key component to identifying and stopping financial exploitation of seniors,” said Jaye L. Martin, Executive Director of Legal Services for the Elderly. “There is no doubt this bill will help prevent seniors all over the country from becoming victims.”