Senator Makes New Push for Senior Safe Act

Bill is designed to prevent financial exploitation of elder investors by training and granting immunity to financial professionals

Sen. Susan Collins, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, has reintroduced her Senior Safe Act, which is designed to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

In introducing the Senior$afe Act of 2017 (S. 223), Collins, R-Maine, noted that the bill aims to protect banks, credit unions, investment advisors, broker-dealers, insurance companies and certain supervisory, compliance and legal employees from civil or administrative liability — as long as they receive training in how to spot and report predatory activity and disclose any possible exploitation of senior citizens to state or federal regulatory and law enforcement entities. 

A similar bill passed the House last July.

Collins’ bill is based on Maine’s Senior$afe program, a collaborative effort by Maine's regulators, financial institutions and legal organizations to educate bank and credit union employees on how to identify and help stop the financial exploitation of older Maine residents.

The program, pioneered by Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, also serves as the template for a model rule developed for adoption at the state level by the North American Securities Administrators Association.

The Financial Services Institute said Tuesday that it urges the Senate “to support the Senior$afe Act of 2017, ensuring that financial advisors and broker-dealers have the ability to report suspicions of financial exploitation whenever they suspect fraudulent behavior without fear of liability," according to a statement.

NASAA President and Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce Mike Rothman believes Collins’ bill “will better protect persons aged 65 and older from financial exploitation by increasing the likelihood it will be identified by financial services professionals, and by removing barriers to reporting it, so that together we as state securities regulators and other appropriate governmental authorities can help stop it,” he said in a statement.

To better ensure that financial services employees have the knowledge and training to identify “red flags” associated with financial exploitation, the bill would require that, as a condition of receiving immunity, financial institutions train certain personnel regarding the identification and reporting of senior financial exploitation.

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