With the goal of preventing the financial exploitation of elderly New Jersey residents, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Nancy Pinkin to increase protections for adults at risk of falling victim to financial crimes was approved Monday by the full Assembly, 77-0.
“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for senior citizens to be taken advantage of by people seeking to take their money, property, assets or identities,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “These crimes often go unreported and untracked. The good news is financial exploitation can be prevented with the right protections in place.”
The bill (A-5091) would provide that when a qualified individual believes the financial exploitation of an eligible adult has occurred or been attempted, they must notify the Bureau of Securities in the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety and the applicable county adult protective services provider. A “qualified individual” is defined under the bill as any agent, investment adviser representative or other person who serves in a supervisory, compliance, or legal capacity for a broker-dealer or investment adviser.
Additionally, the qualified individual must notify any third party previously designated by the eligible adult, unless the third party is the party suspected of the financial exploitation. The qualified individual who makes disclosure in good faith would be immune from administrative, civil or criminal liability.
An eligible adult would be defined as a person 65 years of age or older or a person subject to the “Adult Protective Services Act.”
“Elderly people are often the target of scammers aiming to trick them into giving them money or divulging information, from telemarketing calls to solicitation for fake charities or causes,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “In fact, one in 20 older adults has indicated some form of perceived financial mistreatment, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association. Our senior citizens deserve far better. The protections outlined in this bill will help keep older adults safe from financial exploitation and bring perpetrators to justice.”
“It’s heartbreaking to think that scam artists are ready and willing to solicit money from senior citizens, simply because they are vulnerable,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “No one deserves to fall victim to these crimes, especially our seniors. This bill takes an integral step to safeguard the elderly from financial exploitation.”
The measure would also provide that a broker-dealer or investment adviser may delay a disbursement from an eligible adult’s account if it may result in financial exploitation. In such cases, a broker-dealer or investment advisor would be immune from any administrative or civil liability.
Additionally, the broker-dealer or investment adviser would be required to provide access to or copies of records that are relevant to the suspected or attempted financial exploitation of an eligible adult to agencies charged with administering state adult protective services laws and to law enforcement. The bill would provide that those records shall not be deemed to be public.
The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.