Senior Safe Act on the way to president's desk

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Sens. Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins lead a Sept. 7, 2016, Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing.
Sens. Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins lead a Sept. 7, 2016, Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing.

Editor's note: The president signed S. 2155 into law on May 24.

A bipartisan bill intended to help protect older adults from financial exploitation and fraud is on its way to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The Senior $afe Act, authored by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday as part of a bipartisan banking reform package after previously being passed by the Senate in March. President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he plans to sign the legislation into law.

Collins and McCaskill had introduced the Senior $afe Act in 2017 when they were chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Collins still leads the committee, and McCaskill remains a member.

The legislation protects banks, credit unions, investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies and insurance agencies from being sued for reporting suspected exploitation or fraud as long as they have trained their employees about how to identify the warning signs of common scams and make reports in good faith to the proper authorities.

“The Senior $afe Act, based on Maine's innovative program, will empower and encourage our financial service representatives to identify warning signs of common scams and help prevent seniors from becoming victims,” Collins said in a statement.

Financial fraud costs older adults an estimated $2.9 billion each year, according to Government Accountability Office data cited by Collins.

“We know from our proven success with Senior Safe in Maine that education of financial services professionals is a key component to identifying and stopping financial exploitation of seniors,” Jaye L. Martin, executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly in Maine, said in a statement. “There is no doubt this bill will help prevent seniors all over the country from becoming victims.”

The Senior $afe Act was endorsed by the AARP and several financial organizations, including the North American Securities Administrators Association, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Insured Retirement Institute, Transamerica and LPL Financial.

The banking reform package of which the Senior $afe Act was part when it passed, formally known as S. 2155 or the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, modifies provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010 to govern regulation of the financial industry after the financial crash and recession of 2008-09.

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