Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, urged state securities regulators Monday to rally behind her Senior$afe Act of 2015, which aims to help financial professionals report elder financial fraud.
Collins introduced the legislation, which is modeled on a Senior Safe program in her state, last October along with Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. She told state securities regulators at the North American Securities Administrators Association’s annual policy conference in Washington that she and McCaskill need to add more co-sponsors to the bill’s current seven.
“We need to have more co-sponsors of members who serve on the [Senate] Banking Committee,” she said, adding that she and McCaskill are “about to write” to the Committee and urge it to take “up our bill and report it to the full Senate for consideration.”
She then encouraged state securities regulators to voice their support for the bill during their Monday visits to Capitol Hill. “We’re tweaking language to make sure it’s technically correct, but we need your help in pushing the bill over the finish line,” Collins said.
“I’m optimistic that if we can show greater interest in the bill, we can get it approve by the Senate,” she added. She said her hope is that the Senate would approve the bill by voice vote and that the House would take it up in a lame-duck session this fall.
The Senior$afe Act would provide immunity from lawsuits for certain individuals who disclose potential examples of financial exploitation of senior citizens.
In April, NASAA rolled out a Senior$afe training program state securities reulators can use to help advisors and brokers identify and report potential elder financial fraud.
The securities industry Senior$afe program is modeled on a program for bank and credit union tellers created by the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention. NASAA retooled the program to fit advisors and brokers.
Collins noted figures released by the Government Accountability Office finding that America’s seniors lose $2.9 billion each year to scams and financial exploitation.
“I encourage you to use that figure,” Collins told state securities regulators. “That’s what I keep pushing the Justice Department and financial regulators to understand. We’re finding that more and more of these schemes originate overseas, in boiler rooms in India.”
She also noted that Maine, not Florida, has the oldest median age in the country.
— Check out NASAA to Launch Senior$afe Program to Fight Elder Fraud on ThinkAdvisor.