CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4538, the Senior$afe Act of 2015, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4538 was introduced on February 11, 2016 by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, which ordered the bill to be reported, as amended, by a 59-0 vote on June 16, 2016.
H.R. 4538 provides that certain financial institutions will receive immunity from civil or administrative proceedings if the financial institution provides training to supervisory, compliance or legal employees to identify and report the suspected exploitation of a senior citizen to specified law enforcement or regulatory authorities.
Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities. Situations of financial exploitation commonly involve trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult, such as caretakers, family members, neighbors, friends and acquaintances, attorneys, bank employees, and doctors or nurses. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported. Elder financial abuse leads to an estimated annual financial loss of $2.9 billion.
In 2014, Maine enacted similar legislation to H.R. 4538, to create the Maine Senior$afe program. The program is a public/private effort that attempts to increase identification and reporting of suspected cases of elder financial exploitation. Since the establishment of the program, more than 50 referrals over potential abuse have been made to state authorities, resulting in the prevention of scams and the protection of senior savings accounts.
H.R. 4358 encourages financial institutions and their employees to communicate with the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies when there is a suspicion of financial exploitation of their clients. The legislation also encourages, but does not mandate, financial institutions firms to offer employees training to their employees. The companion bill is S. 2216, sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). S. 2216 was introduced on October 28, 2015.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “Seniors deserve to retire with dignity, and they shouldn’t have to worry that their hard earned savings are at risk of fraud. Our commonsense legislation ensures that financial institutions can identify fraud, report it, and stop financial abuse of the elderly.”
 See National Adult Protective Services Association, “Elder Financial Exploitation”
 See MetLife study, “Elder Financial Abuse,” June 2011.
 Investment News “Senator Susan Collins Enlists State Regulators to Pass Bill to Strengthen Senior Financial Protection.” May 16, 2016.
 See Rep. Kyrsten Sinema Press Release, “House Financial Services Committee Passes Sinema Legislation to Protect Arizona Seniors from Financial Fraud.” June 16, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not available at this time.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.