In recent years, more attention has been given to the threat of senior financial exploitation. Unfortunately, it is all too frequent that caregivers and persons acting under a financial power of attorney for a senior use their positions of influence and power to take the senior’s money for their own benefit. Financial professionals may be the first to notice suspicious patterns of unusual activity on a client’s account, like atypical withdrawals or a sudden interest in risky assets that do not track with the client’s previous investing policies. In the past, such professionals hesitated to take action out of concern about being held liable in court for what could be viewed as a client’s privacy. In 2018 Congress responded with the Senior Safe Act. This Act strengthens consumer protections by making it easier for banks, credit unions, insurance agents, financial advisors, brokers, and firms to report suspected incidents of senior financial exploitation to authorities. The Act shields these financial firms and advisors from hostile actions if they report instances of exploitation to law enforcement agencies or adult protective services. The law encourages the training of employees to make reports of suspected financial exploitation.
Exploitation includes the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual including a caregiver or a fiduciary that uses the resource of a senior citizen for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain; or results in depriving a senior citizen of rightful access to or use of benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.
The Senior Safe Act is a welcomed step in the further protection of our seniors.