Elder Abuse - Does your Institution Comply with Legal Requirements?

The State of Colorado’s law that established the reporting requirements and the definition of a mandatory reporter was effective in July 2014.  Under the final rule a financial institution and staff members individually are within the definition of a mandatory reporter.  The mandatory reporter must report suspected abuse, neglect and/or financial exploitation to the police or local law enforcement officials within 24 hours of becoming aware and/or witnessing an act of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation against an “at-risk elder”.

Key Areas

In 2017, there were approximately 51 million adults in the United States that were 65 years or older.   During the past few years there has been an uptick of suspected elder financial exploitation reports made by Colorado financial institutions.   

The Colorado law defines an “at-risk elder” as any person who is 70 years of age or older. The reporter who observes the abuse, neglect or exploitation or has a reasonable belief that any of these has occurred, and reports in good faith, is immune from criminal or civil liability.  Most importantly, a financial institution and/or staff member that fails to report within regulatory time lines or files a false report can be subject to prosecution.

Under Federal law, the requirements include filing suspicious activity reports (SAR).  FinCEN issued guidance in February 2011 (FIN-2011-A003) which outlined regulatory expectations for reporting and completion of the SAR.  FinCEN believes, “Financial institutions can play a key role in addressing elder financial exploitation due to the nature of the client relationship.  Often, financial institutions are quick to suspect elder financial exploitation based on bank personnel familiarity with their elderly customers.  The valuable role financial institutions can play in alerting appropriate authorities to suspected elder financial exploitation has received increased attention at the state level”.

Action Plan

To safeguard compliance, we recommend that all financial institutions review their State laws and corresponding reporting requirements as well as their policies and procedures to ensure all requirements are met.  We also recommend that training be provided on an ongoing basis to help maintain a level of awareness.

References:  Colorado Senate Bill 13-111 and FIN-2011-A003