Assembly approves elder financial exploitation bill
STATE HOUSE – With final votes in both chambers today, the General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne and Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. to require financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of seniors to the Office of Healthy Aging, and authorizing them to temporarily hold transactions they suspect as such. The legislation will now be sent to the governor.
“Financial exploitation is a serious and growing problem for the elderly,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence). “Many elderly people rely on caregivers to handle their financial matters, and unfortunately, some people abuse that trust. Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions can be very helpful in preventing that abuse, because they are often able to identify suspicious activity in accounts. We should make sure we are taking full advantage of their tools, and making them our partner in protecting senior citizens from this type of abuse.”
The legislation (2021-S 0264A, 2021-H 5642A) would require financial institutions to train employees to recognize indicators of elderly financial exploitation, and on their obligation to properly report it and place a hold on suspicious transactions.
“Abuse and exploitation of the elderly is one of the most egregious crimes committed in this state,” said Representative Solomon (D-Dist. 22, Warwick). “A recent study estimates that one in five older Americans are victims of financial exploitation, losing $3 billion annually. As our population ages, crimes of this nature will become more prevalent, and we need to do everything we can to protect our older citizens.”
The legislation was the result of recommendations made by the Special Task Force to Study Elderly Abuse and Financial Exploitation, a group led by Senator Coyne that met in 2018 and 2019 to explore the facets of elder abuse and make policy recommendations to address them.
According to AARP, one in three Americans is now 50 years or older and by 2030, one out of every five people in the U.S. will be 65-plus. Older Americans are estimated to have accumulated $18 trillion in assets.
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