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House Passes Bill Requiring SEC to Set Up Senior Task Force

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Mike Scarcella US Capitol building. (Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM)

The House passed Tuesday the Senior Security Act of 2019, HR 1876, which requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to set up an interdivisional task force to help investigate and combat financial exploitation of seniors.

“The task force will consult with authorities at all levels of the government to create meaningful recommendations to Congress about what additional measures might be needed to increase protections for older investors who are most vulnerable to exploitation,” the Insured Retirement Institute said upon the bill’s passage.

HR 1876 also directs the Government Accountability Office to study and report on the economic impact and consequences of elder financial exploitation.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, and Trey Hollingsworth, R-Indiana, passed the House by a 392-20 vote and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

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“IRI was a leading supporter of the Senior Safe Act, which Congress enacted last year, to empower and encourage financial professionals to report suspected cases of exploitation to law enforcement and other appropriate governmental agencies,” said Paul Richman, IRI’s chief government and political officer. “This new measure will help to increase protection for senior citizens and help prevent damage to their financial security.”

Ken Bentsen, president and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association,  said in a statement that SIFMA “applauds House passage of the Senior Security Act of 2019 which creates a new SEC taskforce charged with identifying problems senior investors encounter,” including financial exploitation and cognitive decline as well as identifying regulatory changes that could help protect senior investors.

“Our industry is on the frontline in protecting senior investors and strongly supports any efforts that focus on the most immediate and most damaging dangers faced by senior investors,” Bentsen said.  H.R. 1876 “will strengthen efforts to protect these investors from bad actors closest to them.”

Michael Pieciak, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association and Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, added in a separate statement that senior financial exploitation is “a growing problem across the country. The Senior Security Act will significantly enhance our understanding of the unique challenges facing senior investors” by establishing a Senior Investor Taskforce and mandating a comprehensive GAO study of the costs, causes and barriers to reporting the financial exploitation of seniors.

“By requiring that the Senior Investor Taskforce consult with state securities and law enforcement authorities, the Taskforce will facilitate sharing of knowledge and information between federal regulators and policymakers, and the state and local officials who are often the first responders in cases of elder financial exploitation,” Pieciak said. “We look forward to working with members of the Senate to secure the bill’s passage.”