Financial exploitation of our senior citizens is a growing problem. To some extent, seniors are targeted because that’s where the money is. However, the decline of cognitive ability in the older population also may be a factor when scamsters consider whom to go after.
Financial professionals—bankers, brokers, insurance agents, and trustees, such as us—are on the front lines of finance, and so they may be in a position to spot and stop such exploitation. However, there is also a concern about the invasion of privacy, especially if someone interferes with a transaction that turns out to be legitimate. Might the service provider be sued for damages?
To unravel this knot a bit, Congress added the Seniors Safe Act, which had previous been considered in the House and the Senate, to the new banking regulation law. President Trump signed the legislation on May 24, 2018.
The new law is modeled on a law already enacted in Maine. Institutions are encouraged to provide training for their employees on “how to identify and report the suspected exploitation of a citizen internally, and, as appropriate, to government officials or law enforcement authorities, including common signs that indicate the financial exploitation of senior citizens.” After the training has been completed, the institution and the individuals will be held immune from any lawsuit over privacy invasions that come up as a result of the vigilance.
It is good to know that financial professionals may now be active allies in the fight against senior exploitation, but they can only be a second line of defense. A healthy skepticism, and resistance to high pressure sales tactics, still come first.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself against exploitation as you age, refer to our recent posts Planning for Single Seniors , Estate Plan Essentials, and Many Hats in Trust Administration. To help you determine whether you may need the help of a fiduciary, someone who will act in your best interest, you may enjoy our current series “Do I Need a Fiduciary?” by Mike Goldak.
Do I Need a Fiduciary? (Part II)
Do I Need a Fiduciary? (Part III)
Do I Need a Fiduciary? (Part IV)
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