Safe Seniors Financial Protection Act clears Senate on unanimous vote

Legislation aimed at preventing financial exploitation of senior citizens passed the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday with widespread bipartisan support. The bill, authored by Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point), creates new protections for elderly and vulnerable adults by authorizing financial advisors to disclose information and delay disbursements if exploitation is suspected.

“Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable happens every single day. This legislation is about putting safeguards in place to protect Minnesotans against this type of predatory behavior,” said Senator Housley. “The Safe Seniors Financial Protection Act is designed to aid in the prevention of fraud before it ever happens.”

Under the proposal, financial professionals would be authorized to report a reasonable belief that financial exploitation is occurring. The legislation would also allow financial professionals to disclose certain information about the suspected fraud to a trusted third party and give them the ability to temporarily freeze transactions or disbursements. Finally, if acting in good faith, financial professionals would be shielded from all administrative and civil liability.

Senior advocates and industry stakeholders, including AARP, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, the Minnesota Insurance and Financial Services Council, and the Minnesota Financial Planners Association have expressed support for the bill.

“If signed into law, Minnesota will join 15 other states that have enacted similar legislation,” Senator Housley continued. “One in five Minnesotans over the age of 65 have been victimized by fraud and exploitation. By creating this set of safeguards, we can fight back against this abuse.”

Senator Karin Housley, of St. Marys Point, is in her second term representing District 39, which includes Stillwater, Forest Lake, Lake Elmo, and other communities in Chisago and Washington counties. She serves as chairwoman of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee.