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 House unanimously. Senators Collins and McCaskill’s legislation passed the Senate Banking Committee in December 2017 and is expected to soon be considered by the full Senate.
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.
“As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, putting a stop to fraud and financial exploitation targeting seniors has been my top priority,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that the House unanimously 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.”
“Helping protect our seniors from financial exploitation is a goal we can all get behind, and I’m glad my House colleagues are continuing to move this commonsense plan forward with broad, bipartisan support,” said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor. “Financial professionals ought to be able to safely and securely take steps to protect seniors and their life savings when they’re often the ones who can best identify and spot signs of fraud or abuse.”
According to the Government Accountability Office, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually. These scams range from the “Jamaican Lottery Scam,” to the IRS impersonation scam, to the financial exploitation of seniors through guardianships.
Current bank privacy laws can make it difficult for financial institutions to report suspected fraud to the proper authorities. The Senior$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 of 2017 include: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).