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Displaying items by tag: SeniorSafe Act

A 2015 report on Elder Financial Abuse estimates that financial abuse costs seniors $36 billion each year. Abuse can take the form of financial exploitation: when misleading language and, often, pressure tactics, are used to obtain a senior’s consent for payment for services or products. Seniors are also vulnerable to deceit or theft perpetrated by a caregiver, and to telephone and internet scams.

Shawna Reeves, Director of Elder Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging, states that, “Those of us working in the field have long known that the United States is in the throes of an elder financial abuse epidemic.”

The SeniorSafe Act, written by members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and passed last year, empowers financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and investment houses to report suspicions of financial abuse of seniors to the authorities. Before the SeniorSafe Act, privacy laws constrained financial institutions from reporting suspected abuse. It also adjures these institutions to educate their staff to recognize what financial abuse of seniors looks like.

Employees at financial institutions are often the first to notice such signs of financial fraud as unusual patterns of cash withdrawal and unusual wire transfers, often to foreign countries.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has also instituted a rule that allows brokerage account holders to list a trusted person who can be contacted when financial abuse is suspected.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia already have laws in place requiring suspected abuse to be reported. The SeniorSafe Act does not require reporting, but it adds protections for seniors in states that do not have mandatory financial abuse reporting laws.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging publishes an annual resource book to help seniors protect themselves against fraud, and includes a list of the top ten scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline. This book should be required reading for seniors and those who love them.

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