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Governor McKee: Sign This Important Legislation

AARP Rhode Island Urges Governor McKee to Sign Elder Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act

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Passed by the General Assembly, the Act is designed to safeguard against abuse of older Rhode Islanders, holding regulated financial institutions responsible for reporting signs of irregularities

PROVIDENCE – AARP Rhode Island, in a June 23 letter, called on Governor Dan McKee to sign The Elder Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act into law.

 “Recognizing that financial exploitation is a pervasive and increasing problem that specifically threatens our members’ financial security, AARP supports strong legal protections against financial exploitation,” Taylor wrote. “AARP hopes this legislation is just the beginning, and we stand ready to work with you to forge solutions and bring safeguards to our members and the public.”

The Act would require employees of regulated financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of older adults to the RI Office of Healthy Aging and provide authority to the regulated financial institutions to place a temporary hold on transactions.

In the Senate this bill was sponsored by Senator Coyne and co-sponsored by Senators Sosnowski, Valverde, Burke, Seveney, and Euer. In the House of Representatives, it was sponsored by Representative Solomon.

AARP applauds legislative leaders and members of the General Assembly whose bi-partisan efforts led to the Act’s swift passage. “Recognition of the severity of this problem and the consequences suffered by older Rhode Islanders is greatly appreciated,” Taylor said. “Life savings have been drained, homes lost and worse,” she added. “We thank the Assembly for legislation that, when signed into law, provides a new level of protection.”

However, in her letter to the Governor (which was cc’d to Speaker Shekarchi), Taylor called for further action. “Unfortunately, elder financial exploitation cannot be addressed by any one industry or profession,” she wrote.  “It is imperative for multidisciplinary teams of professionals to work together to help address all forms of elder abuse.”

Below is the full text of the letter.

June 23, 2021

Dear Governor McKee:

On behalf of AARP-RI and our over 132,000+ members in Rhode Island, we applaud the General Assembly for passing The Elder Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act. The Elder Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act is a step forward in ensuring the necessary safeguards are in place to deter, address and prevent this form of abuse. In fact, the act would require employees of regulated financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of older adults to the RI Office of Healthy Aging and provide authority to the regulated financial institutions to place a temporary hold on transactions.

AARP has a long history of fighting for protections against the financial exploitation of older Americans and has been on the forefront of advocacy in support of federal and state laws and regulations that prevent it. Elder abuse is an often-hidden phenomenon that affects hundreds of thousands of seniors, and financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse. Every year, abuse and exploitation rob older Americans of $3 billion — and this is only the amount reported.

Unfortunately, elder financial exploitation cannot be addressed by any one industry or profession.  It is imperative for multidisciplinary teams of professionals to work together to help address all forms of elder abuse. For example, financial institutions, accountants, banking professionals, adult protective services, and law enforcement can work together to help prevent or detect financial exploitation. This act is certainly a step forward in the overall efforts in the state to encourage a variety of professionals to break down any communication barriers to combat this type of abuse. 

Recognizing that financial exploitation is a pervasive and increasing problem that specifically threatens our members’ financial security, AARP supports strong legal protections against financial exploitation. AARP hopes this legislation is just the beginning, and we stand ready to work with you to forge solutions and bring safeguards to our members and the public. A logical next step would be to pass Senator Coyne’s Senate Bill 670.

Senate Bill 670 would change the definition of "elder person" for purposes of exploitation of elders from a person 65 years of age or older to a person 60 years of age or older. In 2017 AARP Rhode Island requested the creation of the Special Task Force to Study Elderly Abuse and Financial Exploitation to study this issue. Included in Finding #3 of this Task Force was that “To be consistent, change the definition of an “elderly person” within existing Rhode Island General Laws so that all definitions align with the “Elderly Affairs Department” statute (§ 42-66-4.1), which defines an “elderly person” as a person 60 years of age or older”. They cited changing the definition in statute (§11-68-1) as an example of this consistency. Senate Bill 670 would do just that.

We urge you to sign the Elder Adult Financial Exploitation Prevention Act into law.  We also urge House leadership to pass Senate Bill 670, which is currently with the House Judiciary Committee.  Both bills are vital to our state’s ongoing efforts to address, detect, and combat elder abuse and financial exploitation, and ultimately ensure that older Rhode Islanders can live their best lives free from all forms of abuse.  

Sincerely,

Catherine Taylor
State Director
AARP Rhode Island

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