The Senior Safe Act is Now Law – Helping to Protect Elders from Financial Abuse

As part of a larger financial overhaul bill, on May 24, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Senior Safe Act.  While much of the reporting on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was about the Dodd-Frank revisions, the law incorporated most of the original provisions of the Senior Safe Act, a law geared toward protecting the elderly against financial abuse.

The Senior Safe Act

The Senior Safe Act allows financial institutions and its employees to report elderly financial abuse without  fear of privacy law violations.  Individuals and companies that properly train employees to recognize signs of elder financial abuse are immune from liability for reporting suspected abuse, as long as the reporting was done in good faith and done with reasonable care.  The financial institutions include credit unions, banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies.

Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse

Banks and other financial institutions are on the front lines when witnessing possible financial abuse. Until last week, individuals who witnessed elder exploitation risked being in violation of federal and state privacy laws if the suspected abuse was reported. Watching the abuse and not being able to say anything to authorities put these individuals and their employer in a tough spot. With this new law, the elderly can be better protected by financial services industry employees.

The elderly lose between $3 billion and $36 billion per year to financial fraud, according to Consumer Reports in 2015. The amount depends on the survey conducted. While the range varies between the different surveys, there is no dispute that the elderly are vulnerable to friends, family and strangers when it comes to their money. In another study, Allianz reported in 2016 that the average financial loss to elderly victims was $36,000.00, and the numbers will grow with the aging baby boomer population.

Something must be done about this unspeakable crime plaguing our elderly. The Senior Safe Act is a step in the right direction. Giving individuals and their employers who are closest to an elder person’s money the ability to speak out when wrongdoing is suspected is a relief, but more needs to be done to protect our elderly.

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