Senators Susan Collins & Claire McGaskill – – take a bow! Thanks for sponsoring the Senior Safe Act, which is hopefully on its way to becoming the law of the land.
I’m well versed in scams & MY heart raced on getting an alarming phone call about an outstanding tax payment. The IRS would seize our home if we didn’t make IMMEDIATE payment – on our credit card! Knew right off the bat what was afoot, but was seized for a brief second with color-draining, heart-stopping fear!
Anyone with access to the internet can learn that John & I are over retirement age, so we have a target on our backs. Olders are juicy targets for financial flim-flam artists who know there’s often a nest egg squirreled away, that older folks tend to fret about finances, are respectful of folks who sound in charge, and might have cognitive impairments.
The Senior Safe Act, introduced last year by Senators Collins & McGaskill, passed the Senate & now moves back to committee to be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House, then it’s onto the president’s desk for signature.
Recognizing financial advisors as a front line defense against elder financial abuse, the bill allows financial services advisors to report potential abuse without fearing breach of privacy laws. In addition, the bill standardizes training to help employees spot & report suspected abuse.
Senator McGaskill urged passage of the bill, noting, “We’ve got to give financial professionals the ability to combat fraud when they see it — while protecting the privacy of their customers.
The bill was first introduced in the House, by Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), based on Maine’s Senior$afe program, which teams up state regulators, financial firms & legal organizations to educate financial services professionals on spotting signs of elder financial abuse.
Sadly, scam artists aren’t the only ones victimizing the elderly. The majority of folks fleecing elders are family, friends & caregivers, people who have their trust, who can access accounts & even threaten the oldster. Even if an older person figures out what’s happening, they are usually reluctant to contact authorities or even tell friends for fear of what might happen to the person or of reprisals.
60-somethings are as vulnerable as ninety year olds. My mother was one sharp cookie, but when she was widowed in her early sixties, she – under pressure from a loved one – ditched the executor named in Dad’s will & appointed a new one. Through unapproved investments & flagrant mismanagement of funds, he lost every penny. Here’s the kicker – I knew that monthly stock reports weren’t being shared with Mom & pressed her to have them presented. She refused. It was only when the losses could no longer be hidden that it finally came out. Even then, she refused to hold the person responsible. I begged her – for his sake – to have him write out a notarized report of his mishandling of the monies & for him to compensate her $1.00. One dollar. She would not do that – “I can’t humiliate him that way.” True story.
The Senior Safe Act won’t end elders falling victim to financial abuse – it wouldn’t have protected Mom – but its advocates believe that it will, with other legislative tools & industry support, go a long way in reducing the abuse.