Financial abuse is very common among seniors, and it can cause substantial economic loss as well as emotional damage. A California financial elder abuse attorney should be consulted by those who are victimized by financial abuse.
Unfortunately, far too many cases of elder abuse ever get reported. Seniors often cannot speak up about being victimized, especially if the senior has dementia and isn’t aware of what’s going on or if the person committing the abuse is a caretaker and the senior is frightened into silence. The good news is, there are currently efforts being made by the federal government to increase reporting of elder financial abuse. One such effort is the Senior$afe Act of 2017.
Senior$afe Act Approved by Senate Banking Committee
The Senior$afe Act was recently approved by the Senate Banking Committee as part of a larger bill that passed 16-7. The Senior$afe Act is bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat.
The Act does a number of different things to encourage the reporting of elder financial abuse. Most importantly, it provides civil immunity and administrative immunity to any professionals within the financial services industry who wish to report possible abuses against seniors to appropriate government agencies without being worried about facing legal liability for violating privacy laws. The Act provides protection for these financial service professionals by ensuring if they make a report of suspected abuse, they can’t be sued or otherwise held liable for violating the privacy rights of the potential abuse victim.
If the Senior$afe Act requirements go into effect, advisors will be required to undergo training on how to identify and report suspected elder financial abuse or exploitation in order to protect the advisor from liability for making such reports.
Removing the threat of penalties for reporting suspected financial exploitation of seniors could create a clear path for financial professionals to take more initiative and report potential abuse to regulators. This would enhance protection for seniors. Many leading financial services industry groups lobbied in support of the Senior$afe Act. More than 100 financial advisors came to Capitol Hill from the Financial Services Institute in order to encourage lawmakers to pass the bill.
The House Financial Services Committee has also passed the bill. Its passage into law would be a “critical step in preventing elder financial abuse nationwide,” according to the executive vice president and general counsel of the Financial Services Institute.
Of course, even if financial advisors are able to make reports without worries about privacy laws, many cases of financial elder abuse are still likely to slip through the cracks. Those who are victimized by abuse, and their family members, need to speak up and take appropriate legal action to hold abusers accountable for losses. Our Marin County elder abuse attorneys can pursue all available legal remedies for victimized seniors (including extra damages and awards of attorneys’ fees), so speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one was a victim of financial elder abuse or exploitation. Contact Evans Law Firm online or call 415-441-8669 for a free initial consultation today.