Senior Safe Act Helps Prevent Elder Abuse

Financial elder abuse has been a growing problem in the last decade. A recent study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that one in 18 “cognitively intact” elderly people were the victims of financial abuse in the last year alone. Elderly people with a cognitive impairment are even more likely to be victims of fraud. To combat financial elder abuse, Maine started a pilot program a few years ago that trained bank employees to spot suspicious financial activity of seniors’ bank accounts. If a bank participated in this training, it would benefit by likely not being punished for disclosing account information to authorities. Because of the great success of this pilot program, Main Senator Susan Collins took the program to the national level, according to the New York Times. The Senior Safe Act is now a law nationwide.

What is In It for the Banks?

The Senior Safe Act encourages bank officials and bank tellers to participate in fraud training specifically designed to help them notice potential signs of elder financial abuse. Because most elders use banks in person, and do very little of their bill paying online and via automatic monthly withdrawals, bank employees are a great line of defense against fraud. In return for this service, banks are awarded a greater amount of liability protection when disclosing account information to state and federal authorities. This liability protection makes it more difficult for these banks to be sued by their clients.

Types of Financial Fraud and Spending Banks Are Looking Out For

Banks are on the lookout for unusual monthly withdrawals both small and large, odd money transfers, out-of-state spending, and withdrawals that generally do not line up with their client’s normal spending behavior. Senior citizens, on average, tend to have very regular and routine spending habits, they do not travel very often, do not make online purchases, and do their banking in person at the bank, not online. As such, financial fraud can generally be detected swiftly in many cases. Common fraud schemes involve the following:

  • Email Scams— The scammer pretends to be a financial institution, the IRS, or a company trying to complete an online or phone purchase that did not go through. The hope is to get the victim’s financial or personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, tax information, login passwords, etc.
  • Telemarketing Fraud—Similar in goal to email scams, telemarketing scams are designed to get the elder’s personal and financial information. The call may be a robo (robotic) call, or the caller may try to impersonate someone else, even the victim’s grandchild, nephew, or long-lost relative.
  • Credit Card or Check Fraud—Thieves use devices to scan credit cards in stores to acquire the credit card account numbers and create duplicates, or they may even take the actual credit card or check via pickpocketing or other means.

Call Maryland Elder Law Attorney Tara K. Frame

For questions concerning elder law and estate planning, contact the compassionate Pasadena attorneys of Frame & Frame today. You can reach us at 410-255-0373 to set up a consultation at your soonest convenience.