New Connecticut law to protect seniors from financial abuse, exploitation

State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-21st District

HARTFORD, CT In a press release, Connecticut Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, shared news of the ceremonial signing of legislation establishing procedures to protect senior citizens from suspected financial abuse and exploitation.

“With the signing of this law, Connecticut is doing its part to better protect one of the most valued and vulnerable populations in our state – our senior citizens,” said Kelly, who co-signed the bill. “Every senior citizen deserves to be protected from financial exploitation and provided with resources to maintain financial health.”

Gov. Ned Lamont signed Public Act 23-161 into law after it was approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 150 to 0 and in the Senate by a vote of 35 to 0.

The legislation implements procedures into state statutes that protect seniors from suspected cases of financial fraud, scams, and exploitation by a person who is taking care of an older adult.

Specifically, this law authorizes financial institutions to temporarily suspend or hold transactions involving an account of an adult over the age of 60 if there is a reasonable suspicion of financial exploitation, which is defined as taking advantage of an eligible adult by another person or caretaker for monetary, personal, or other benefit, gain, or profit, according to the governor’s press release.

When such cases occur, the financial institution should disclose the suspected abuse to the Connecticut Department of Banking or the Connecticut Department of Social Services, who will investigate the report and refer it to law enforcement authorities if appropriate, Lamont said.

The law permits banks and credit unions to suspend or hold transactions on the account for up to 45 days. To encourage financial institutions to be vigilant in identifying these cases, those who act in good faith when suspending or holding a transaction will be immune from liability that might otherwise come from denying immediate access to an account holder’s money. This law takes effect July 1, 2024.

“Cases of financial exploitation and fraud involving caretakers of seniors is far too common and can result in an older adult having their savings depleted or lost entirely,” Lamont said. “These cases are infuriating and heartbreaking, and we need to have strong laws in place that can prevent suspected abuse before a thief can access someone else’s money. By encouraging banks and credit unions to put a hold on transactions and report this kind of suspected abuse to authorities, we can add a strong layer of protections to prevent seniors from being financially exploited.”

Kelly, the former ranking member of the Aging Committee, said he is pleased to see legislation enacted that protects Connecticut residents age 60-and-older from fraudulent and criminal banking activity. Nearly 20-percent of the state’s residents are 65-and-older, and more than 23-percent are 60 years of age or older.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of suspicious activity reports filed by banks concerning elder financial exploitation between 2013 and 2017 quadrupled. In addition:

  • More than 1 in 10 elderly people fell victim to fraud in 2022.
  • Over 8.68 million incidents of elder fraud occur every year in total.
  • Average loss per case is $20,015.
  • In all 50 states, losses due to elder fraud total $113.7 billion.

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