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S$A: The Senior Safe Act

Senior financial fraud is a $2.9 billion dollar a year industry. Each year millions of elder Americans are the victims of money-syphoning scammers stealing away their savings. Senior advocates were victorious May 24, 2018 when President Trump signed the Senior Safe Act into law. Congress followed the models for established state laws on protecting reporting individuals with information on financial fraud of senior investors. Previously the industry was required to maintain tight lips on consumer information, but with the influx of the aging population losing their assets by illegal or unscrupulous means, times have changed.

Cleverly referred to as S$A, the Senior Safe Act protects financial institutions, and particular individuals and agents within them, from civil and administrative liability when alerting authorities of financial exploitation of aging investors. Focusing on consumers over the age of 65, the Act provides protection to trained employees and agents of financial institutions who report suspected fraud or impropriety in the handling of the finances of their aging financiers.  

Many states have already implemented similar legislation and the new law is meant to beef up current state laws protecting elder investors from the perils of financial fraud. The law very clearly notes that it is not intended to preempt or limit any state law–except in the case that the S$A provides greater protection to whistleblowers. The S$A is also not a blanket of immunity for every employee at these financial establishments. This coverage only extends to supervisors, registered representatives of the institution, and individuals in compliance or legal roles, all who have been specifically trained on the proper reporting procedures and warning signs of possible financial extortion of their aging patrons.

The training qualifications for this immunity consist of developing skills for recognizing the signs of financial exploitation, learning who the appropriate person or entity to report concerns to, and the reaffirmation of the importance for maintaining as much privacy for the customer as possible through the process. Qualified employees will be protected under the law when reporting suspect conditions to the proper authority, with reasonable care, and with a good faith belief for the existence of impropriety.

Again though, this shield seems to focus its protection on higher-ups in the individual financial institutions–not simply any bank teller that calls the police on a questionable distant relative urging grandpa to lend them some cash. The way that the S$A is written, these lower-level employees would be better served to let their trained superiors handle the dirty work.

The Senior Safe Act is certainly a huge leap by Congress in the already-carved direction of many states. Qualified employees can now voice their concerns for their customers without fear of civil or administrative liability. Investors can rest assured that their privacy continues to be a critical interest for their financial institutions–and that their financial savants are watching out for their best interests. This advancement provides a greater opportunity for elder Americans to be kept safe in a world full of clever scammers, foreign family members, and unsavory fiduciaries.


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