New Law Protecting Against Senior Financial Exploitation Goes Into Effect

August 04, 2018 06:32 PM

Financial advisers now have more power to stop scammers from targeting senior citizens. The Safe Seniors Financial Protection Act went into effect Aug. 1.

It creates a stronger partnership between those advisers and the Minnesota Commerce Department.


"Telephone and email scams are growing, every day there's more and more of them," said Mary McDougall, a wealth management adviser and senior vice president for Merrill Lynch.

RELATED: Minnesotans May be Target of Phony IRS Scam

McDougall sees firsthand how frequently seniors are taken advantage of by both strangers and relatives.

"My guess is one out of four of my clients has had some kind of request from their children," she said.

The requests can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

"I may be able to say that might not be a good idea and if they insist on it then this law will allow me to help them by asking the state to investigate," said McDougall.

RELATED: FBI Warns Minnesota Businesses of Email Compromise Scam

The new law gives broker-dealers and investment advisers the power to report to the Department of Commerce when they see someone trying to financially exploit the elderly or vulnerable adults.

They can also freeze transactions on the account for up to 15 days while investigators look into it. If they need more time, investigators can request the transaction delay continue for another 10 days.

"That’s a great backstop and I’m glad it's there," said McDougall.

RELATED: Health Department Warns of Fraudulent Phone Calls

She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that one of the biggest ways seniors can protect themselves is talking to people, whether it's tax, financial or legal advisers, or getting advice from neighbors and other family members.

"Being able just to talk about it before it happens is a great thing to establish as a norm," she said. "I think would help stop a lot of things."

McDougall believes this law will help with those conversations. It allows financial professionals to loop in a third party, someone who the victim trusts, to talk it through.

She told us her firm already has in-house investigators who look into suspected abuse. If they find it happening, they already report it to the state.


Callan Gray

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