Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Senior$afe Act of 2017 (S. 223) this week, along with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and several other co-sponsors. CUNA supports the bill, and wrote a letter of support Wednesday.
The bill would provide protections for properly trained financial employees who disclose concerns about financial exploitation of senior citizens to the appropriate authorities.
“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,” wrote CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “This legislation represents an important step toward improving protection for seniors by providing legal immunity for properly trained financial services.”
While introducing the bill, Collins cited the story of one Maine credit union as an example of how credit unions can be on the front lines of preventing elder financial abuse. In 2015, a senior citizen member of Maine Savings FCU, Hampden, Maine, sought to wire funds from the credit union to an out-of-state account, supposedly to bail out a relative in jail.
“Something about this transaction did not sound right to the credit union employee. She asked the customer, who said he had received a call from an ‘official’ at the jail—but that ‘official’ has instructed him not to speak to anyone. That ‘official’ of course, turned out to be a con artist,” Collins said. “Fortunately, the credit union worker recognized this as a scam, and saved her customer from falling victim and losing his savings.”