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Sinema Passes Legislation to Protect Arizona Seniors from Financial Fraud and Abuse

Sinema, on House floor: “We are proud to work across the aisle to get things done, and we will continue working to protect seniors and get results for Arizona.”

Floor video here

Today, the House of Representatives passed commonsense legislation authored by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) to protect Arizona’s 1.1 million seniors from financial fraud and abuse and catch fraudsters before they do harm. 

“Arizona seniors have worked hard their entire lives and they shouldn’t have to worry about protecting their bank accounts from financial scammers,” said Sinema. “Our legislation protects seniors by going after scammers and fraudsters to keep seniors’ pocket books safe. The Senior Safe Act is proof we can put party aside and find commonsense solutions to real problems.”

Sinema and Poliquin’s legislation encourages individuals and financial institutions to report suspected instances of fraud and elder financial abuse and incentivizes firms to train employees to identify and stop financial fraud. 

The bill also helps law enforcement track down financial criminals who target seniors by enabling banks, credit unions, investment advisors, broker-dealers, and other financial service providers to better communicate with appropriate agencies when they suspect financial exploitation of seniors.

Recent studies estimate nearly 1 in 5 American seniors may be a target of financial fraud or abuse. Even when financial institutions suspect abuse, the abuse may go unpunished. Current laws lack the necessary flexibility to allow financial institutions to report suspected abuse to authorities.

Sinema’s remarks from the House floor can be found below.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of H.R. 2255, a package of three common sense solutions, each passed unanimously by the House Financial Services Committee. Thank you to Congressman [dave] Trott of Michigan for your leadership in moving this package forward. One of these solutions is H.R. 3758, the Senior Safe Act, legislation we introduced to protect seniors from financial fraud and abuse.

Mr. Speaker, one in five American seniors will be a target of financial abuse, and seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion a year to financial exploitation.

The financial institutions that serve America’s seniors are in a unique position to detect and identify the suspicious patterns of activity that often accompany financial abuse. Unfortunately, these institutions do not have the legal flexibility to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement. Because of this, financial abuse of our seniors may go unreported and unpunished.

That’s why we introduced H.R. 3758, the Senior Safe Act. Our bill helps individuals and financial institutions safely communicate instances of financial fraud involving seniors to the appropriate law enforcement authority. It creates incentives for firms to train their employees to identify and stop financial fraud of seniors. It shields advisers and firms that responsibly disclose instances of suspected financial fraud from legal liability. Importantly, it accomplishes all of this while providing reasonable legal safeguards to ensure consumers and their data are protected.

Mr. Speaker, it may seem like years, but it was just four months ago that the CEO of Equifax came before Congress to testify about the data breach that exposed the personal information of over 145 million Americans. Those who mishandle our private data and breach the public trust must be held accountable. We must also ensure that we do all we can to minimize the damage caused by cyber-attacks and financial fraud.

As a result of the Equifax data breach, millions of American seniors are now more vulnerable to financial abuse. It is all but certain that we will see increased attempts of financial fraud and identity theft. The Senior Safe Act is an important and responsible step to protecting those at risk by ensuring that financial institutions can identity fraud, report it, and stop abuse of the elderly.

Thank you to Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters, and Congressman [bruce] Poliquin of Maine for working with me on this bipartisan solution to protect seniors from financial fraud and abuse. We are proud to work across the aisle to get things done, and we will continue working to protect seniors and get results for Arizona.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.