Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA Supports Bill to Curb Elder Abuse
Posted March 15, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

This week, we wrote a letter of support for S. 2216, the “Senior$afe Act of 2015.”  This bill states that a supervisor, compliance officer, or legal advisor for a credit union who has received training regarding the identification and reporting of the suspected exploitation of a senior citizen can’t be held liable for disclosing such exploitation, if such individual made the disclosure in good faith and with reasonable care. 

The bill also prevents credit unions themselves from being held liable for such disclosures, if their employees were properly trained, and were working at the credit union at the time of the disclosure.

Since financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of elder abuse, we strongly support this effort to help seniors avoid financial exploitation and encourage responsible decisions regarding financial management. 

Many credit unions provide a full range of financial services, including financial management, retirement planning, and credit counseling to their members, including seniors and their families. Credit unions also provide elder abuse information and additional resources to help consumers, including on the credit union’s websites and with account statements. 

The member-owner relationship between the credit union and its members puts credit union employees in a key position to detect suspicious activity around senior accounts because often times the employees know the members well. However, in some cases certain privacy laws make it difficult, or in some cases impossible, for employees to ring the alarm bell when exploitation is suspected. 

This bill represents an important step toward improving protection for seniors by providing legal immunity for properly trained financial services employees who disclose concerns about financial exploitation of senior citizens.

Our letter also suggested some improvements, including clarification of how training should be defined, and a more expansive description of positions defined in section 2(b)(1)(A) to include a broader scope of supervisory positions in credit unions, which may be in the position to identify senior abuse.