Removing Barriers Blog

Senior$afe Act (H.R. 4538) Unanimously Passes Committee
Posted June 16, 2016 by Chandler Schuette

This morning, the House Financial Services Committee unanimously voted 59-0 to pass a CUNA-supported bill that would protect good-faith reporters of suspected elder financial abuse. The Senior$afe Act of 2015 (H.R. 4538) was introduced by Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine).

The bill would provide legal immunity for financial services employees who disclosed concerns about elder financial abuse. It will move onto consideration by the full House.

Several members of the Committee spoke in favor of the bill. Rep. Sinema demonstrated the necessity for this legislation by stating that recent studies estimate 1 in 5 seniors are targeted by financial abuse. However, even when financial institutions suspect abuse, it may go unpunished because current law lacks the necessary flexibility to allow reporting to authorities. She stated that this bill will clarify these laws, help with employee training, and will protect firms and advisers that report suspected financial exploitation from personal liability. 

Rep Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) happily declared that this bill demonstrated a rare occasion where legislation is influenced by everyday people back home, and is a good example of legislation that is concrete and helpful.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the other sponsor of the bill, stated that his home state of Maine has the oldest average age in the country. He stated that it is very easy to prey on seniors with various scams, and was very proud that the state of Maine is leading on this issue. A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in March, and we have written in support of that bill, which has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee.

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Tex. shared information from a recent CFPB study that estimated US seniors are swindled to the tune of $36 billion a year. He expressed support for giving law enforcement all the tools necessary to stop these scam, and clarifying ambiguity in existing law to allow financial institutions and their employees to report suspected fraud on senior citizens. 

As this bill moves forward, we will continue to push Congress to clarify how training should be defined and include a more expansive description of positions to include a broader scope of credit union supervisory positions. 

The Maine Credit Union League and Maine credit unions worked with Senators Collins several times to discuss elder financial abuse and ways to combat it.