(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has signed into law legislation implementing 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. 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.
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,” Governor 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.”
Studies have found that more than 8.68 million incidents of elder fraud occur every year with an average loss per case of $20,015. In all 50 states, losses due to elder fraud total $113.7 billion each year. Deposit accounts are the most common product involved in these cases, followed by debit cards and credit cards.
“Elder financial exploitation is one of the fastest growing crimes across the country,” Connecticut Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez said. “This bill aims to directly curb this activity here in Connecticut. Working with industry, advocates, and other stakeholders, we were able to put forward new tools that can have a meaningful impact on our senior citizens and give them additional protections for their assets.”
“Theft and exploitation are completely avoidable, and we will make sure our elderly population has the tools they need to evade such efforts,” Connecticut Department of Social Services Commissioner Andrea Barton Reeves said. “This added layer of security for our seniors will offer peace of mind to families knowing their loved ones are protected from financial exploitation. I am proud to have been a part of the many conversations we’ve held in Connecticut as we work to continue bolstering protections for seniors in every aspect of their lives.”
“We applaud this important legislation to address the issue of fraud,” Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services Commissioner Amy Porter said. “Involving new partners in fraud protection creates a stronger safety net within our communities.”
The legislation is Public Act 23-161. 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.