House Passes Bill to Protect Seniors from Financial Exploitation
Financial abuse among the elderly is a growing problem in America, affecting roughly 1 in 20 senior citizens. From predatory lending practices to investment scams, this financial abuse can cause significant stress and unnecessary debt for an aging adult.
Late Monday, the House of Representatives passed a set of bills that included provisions to shield seniors from financial exploitation. The portion previously known as the Senior Safe Act would protect bankers if they reported potential financial abuse to law enforcement. Bankers will be trained on how to report this information to law enforcement, including which private information they can and cannot include.
Paul Schott Stevens, president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, said, “While many states already shield financial institutions from liability when they disclose suspected elder financial abuse, this bill will provide such protection to all financial institutions, including all mutual fund transfer agents.”
The House originally passed a version of the Senior Safe Act in July of 2016, but it did not get past the Senate. The purpose of the new bill remains the same, but it has been slightly restructured and lumped together with the Mobile Act.
The Mobile Act (Making Online Banking Initiation Legal and Easy Act) is a separate policy allowing banks and credit unions to use a scan or image of a person’s state-issued ID to open a new account remotely. Most states have rules against IDs being copied, but they have supplemental exceptions for financial institutions. This rule would extend those exemptions to all states in the hopes of making it easier for customers to open bank accounts. This section of the bill is mostly targeted to unbanked and underbanked Americans who currently lack access to basic banking services.
It is now up to the Senate to pass both bills and move them forward for Presidential approval. Updated information will be available through the Congress’s status tracker.