by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill
At some point in our lives, nearly all of us will worry that a crook or scammer is taking financial advantage of an elderly family member, friend or loved one.
What’s even scarier is that many people on the front lines of this fight against these fraudsters—bank employees and other financial professionals—have their hands tied. Right now, even if an accountant or bank teller feels sure that one of their trusted customers is being defrauded, the law is unclear about whether these financial professionals can alert the police or anyone else who might be able to step in to stop this fraud and abuse.
In fact, under current law, if a bank teller believed an elderly customer was being defrauded—for example, if they noticed someone suddenly sending a series of wire-transfers to a foreign country to receive a “lottery prize”—that bank teller could be subject to a lawsuit for violating a customer’s privacy rights for bringing the suspected fraud to the attention of the authorities.
That kind of caring and helpfulness shouldn’t be punished. The law shouldn’t prevent these types of employees from saving their customers from being the victims of fraud.
That’s why I’ve teamed up with my friend, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, to write the Senior Safe Act. This bill would allow bank workers and financial professionals that have been specifically trained to identify potential fraud to call the police if they strongly suspect that one of their customers is falling victim to financial abuse.
In an environment where Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on much at all, I’m proud that our bill has the support of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Financial exploitation of seniors costs American families billions of dollars a year, and can destroy the financial security of our elderly loved ones and family members. Luckily, we’ve found a way to get between a potential fraudster and a senior’s bank account that doesn’t cost taxpayers a single cent.
The Senior Safe Act is the kind of commonsense solution that Missourians rightly want lawmakers to fight for, and I’ll continue to gather support for our plan until it’s signed into law.