Safe Harbor for Banks that Provide Elder Abuse Training
Posted on 10/30/2018 at 03:30 PM by Jesse Johnston
Congress recently passed bipartisan law designed to protect senior citizens, known as the Senior Safe Act. This is a timely federal law that offers protection to a financial institution that reports potential elder abuse from civil or administrative proceedings subject to the financial institution meeting several conditions. This law seeks to redress the gray area that exists between customer privacy under laws like GLBA and the protection of vulnerable Americans, like senior citizens.
As so many financial institutions are aware, elder abuse is a problem for many older Americans. A 2016 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute has found 1 in 5 older Americans are victims of financial exploitation each year, according. The researchers found that these victims lose $3 billion annually, or approximately $120,000 per person, “the amount a typical 50-plus household has in retirement savings.” The cause of this abuse is attributable to several factors, one of which is simply that older Americans own 67% of U.S. Bank Deposits. In Iowa, 16.5% of the population of Iowa is 65 years of age or older. Elder abuse is a real problem that can be very detrimental for depositors and potentially costly for financial institutions.
Financial institutions are in a difficult position. On one hand, financial institutions want to prevent abuse of its depositors, but on the other the deposits belong to the account holder. If account holders are duped into transferring funds, or unwisely grant access to inappropriate individuals, the financial institution may not be able to do anything. It can be difficult for bank employees to know when elder abuse is occurring, and employees may be hesitant to take action for fear of liability to the depositor.
The Senior Safe Act is offering financial institutions an immunity from civil and administrative proceedings if the institution and/or reporting individual has received elder abuse training. The law dictates the substance of the training, and the timing upon which employees must receive the training. The Senior Safe Act is providing a carrot for financial institutions for providing a training that should be part of the repertoire of the institution’s employee training anyway. The training can be provided by the financial institution or a third-party. Either way, we are here to assist with training and substance of training in order to assist your institution with implementing best practices and potentially achieving immunity in the process. The requirements for training are common-sense and if your institution has not yet provided the training, it should consider doing so with haste.
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