I recently wrote about how elder financial abuse can have all kinds of additional, unintended costs. This week, I was pleased to learn that Congress has passed a law that will help to make it easier for financial abuse to get reported. The new law provides incentives for banks and other financial institutions to train their employees on how to spot this problem, and to report them.
The law was apparently inspired by the Senior$afe program in Maine. Senior$afe encourages state regulators, financial institutions, and legal organizations to work together on educating banking and credit union workers to spot and stop elder financial abuse. When elders have a trusted third party to talk to about their finances, they are less likely to fall victim to elder financial abuse, and this program has found success in reducing the amount of elders who fall victim to these scams.
However, this isn’t an entirely new idea. In 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a report that found how reporting elder financial abuse has already become a respected norm in hundreds of counties around the country. The report found that these counties created voluntary community-based partnerships to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial abuse situations. These partnerships often include entities such as financial institutions, adult protective services, and law enforcement. The CFPB found that these partnerships can be incredibly effective in protecting their elderly citizens.
Protecting our most vulnerable is important to providing a safe and prosperous society for all of us. These community-based partnerships and laws are both steps in the right direction towards protecting those who aren’t able to protect themselves.