The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law on May 24, 2018. There are a few important factors of the Act to keep in mind:
- There is a section in the Act that was once a stand-alone bill from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)– designed to encourage elder (age 65 and older) financial abuse reporting.
- The Act does not mandate that financial institutions report financial abuse, but it gives them an incentive to do so.
- The Act provides immunity from lawsuits alleging elder financial abuse if the financial institution reports it to state or federal law enforcement agents.
- To qualify for immunity, a financial institution must administer a training program for employees to teach them how to spot elder financial abuse.
- This Act provides immunity to financial institutions because they are often the first witnesses of elderly abuse if clients begin making unusual transactions that may be linked to a scam.
More About The Senior Safe Act
The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was inspired by the Senior$afe program in Maine. Senior$afe encourages state regulators, financial institutions, and legal organizations to work together. Their focus is on educating banking and credit union workers to spot and stop elder financial abuse. When elders can talk to a trust third part about their finances, they are less likely to fall victim to elder financial abuse. This program found success in reducing the number of elders who fall victim to financial scams.
In 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a report that found reporting elder financial abuse is a normal practice in many places around the country. The report found that many counties created voluntary community-based partnerships with institutions. The partnerships were developed to prevent, detect, and respond to potential elder financial abuse. These partnerships often include financial institutions, adult protective services, and law enforcement, and they can be incredibly effective in protecting their elderly citizens.
Before the passage of this Act, many states lacked sufficient elder financial abuse protection laws. In response to the shortage, city and county communities have stepped up to protect their most vulnerable from financial scams. The CFPB released a resource guide and best practices to help and encourage other counties across the US to adopt their own protection partnerships. Among other recommendations, the CFPB wants communities to directly include law enforcement and financial institutions in these partnerships. Without either, the programs may not work. As mentioned above, financial institutions are often the first to spot financial elder abuse, and law enforcement has an obligation to investigate once a claim is made. Also, the CFPB recommends that partnerships developing in diverse areas to engage with groups that are already entrenched in the community, such as service groups or faith-based organizations.
Protecting our most vulnerable is important in order to provide a safe and prosperous society for all citizens of all ages. These community-based partnerships and the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act are both steps in the right direction. We hope that growth continues and that we are always striving towards protecting those who aren’t able to protect themselves. If you or someone you know is dealing with elderly financial abuse, call the elder law attorneys at Michaelson & Associates. We are here to help you protect your family legacy. If you have any other questions about something you read, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 702-731-2333.