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, cleared a key hurdle this evening by passing the Senate as part of a bipartisan banking reform package. Their legislation previously passed the House of Representatives.
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 would provide support to regulators, financial institutions, and legal organizations to educate their employees about how to identify and prevent financial exploitation of older Americans.
“Putting a stop to fraud and financial exploitation targeting seniors has been my top priority as the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that the Senate has passed our commonsense plan, based on Maine’s innovative Senior $afe program, which will empower and encourage our financial service representatives to identify warning signs of common scams and help prevent seniors from becoming victims.”
“This victory is a big step towards helping protect our seniors from financial exploitation,” said Senator McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor. “Getting this bipartisan bill signed into law will give financial professionals—those on the front lines who can best spot fraud and abuse—the tools they need to safely and securely take steps to protect seniors and their life savings.”
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 last week 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 would address this problem by:
- Encouraging banks, credit unions, investment advisors, broker-dealers, insurance companies and insurance agencies to report suspected senor 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 Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), Transamerica, and LPL Financial.
Additional cosponsors of the Senior $afe Act include: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), Sen. Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).