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North Carolina Gets New Senior, Disabled Financial Protection Law

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 8:19 AM
From Credit Union Times:
The new law requires all financial institutions to report to authorities cases where there is reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult over 18 or older adult 65 or above is the victim or target of financial exploitation, according to a statement released by SECU on Monday.

What’s more, the law also protects financial institution officers or employees from any liability when they “act in good faith.”  The legislation also encourages, but doesn’t require, financial institutions to offer older adult members the opportunity to submit a list of trusted persons to be contacted in case of financial exploitation.

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pearlbrownpearlbrown1,431 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,248
1. Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 9:49 AM
I am uneasy about this piece of legislation - it's good on paper, but IMO likely will have limited success in being implemented and may create more problems than it is intended to solve.  

On the one hand, there are many who are vulnerable to predators with their own agendas.  But it's not only those over a certain age, or individuals of advanced age, deteriorating health, or diminished faculities who need protection.   Some basic examples - at any age or level of physical ability:
  • "I need to wire transfer these funds to a former ruler of X country so he can leave the country and then has promised he will share his millions with me":  cue the flashing red lights and loud alarms.
  • "I need to wire transfer money to my great nephew Johnnie.  He just called to tell me that he was on vacation in (other side of the world) and went to jail for speeding.  I thought he was in college in (next state over), so am not sure why he was in (other side of the world).":  cue the flashing red lights and loud alarms. 
  • "I want to cash this check for 3,000" - not clear.  Maybe the person would like to keep some cash at home for emergency purposes.  Maybe the bank employee is trying to promote wire transfers, but a question from a bank employee, "Why do you need that much cash" can easily be seen as crossing the line into intrusive territory.
In the first place, for this to be effective at a meaningful level, bankers have to know their customers, and in today's environment that is a difficult - if not impossible- goal.  In addition, if as a banker you are face to face with a customer who is requesting that wire transfer and despite your warnings insists on going through with it, who are you going to summon?  Most police departments are overworked and in many locales cannot even respond to auto accidents below a certain level of damage.  Ditto for most social service agencies in terms of ability to respond in a timely manner.   If someone comes to their door after the fact to discuss their actions, many will absolutely see that as intrusion.    Independently of the "hold harmless" clause when banking officials act in good faith, employees are going to have to be very diplomatic in how they handle these situations, lest misguided (if well-intentioned) zeal backfire on them in their customers' perception. 

It's also not a stretch to imagine some overzealous institution making the (legislated optional) requirement to provide the names of trusted financial persons mandatory.  If my banker asks me for the names of trusted financial persons, I will see that as an affront to my privacy and refuse to comply. 

On the other hand, unless we all wish to be islands and distance ourselves from others, where is the line between looking out for another human being who may be a victim of financial abuse or fraud, and invading their privacy? 

Further, where is it written that because one is disabled or over 65 they may not be fully capable of managing their own affairs, even if their transactions may seem unusual to a banking officer?  What bank officer would  be bold enough to quiz Stephen Hawking (in the admittedly unlikely event he was in NC and had an account in the US) about why he wished to withdraw $5000 in cash?

IMO this legislation is well-intentioned, but it has not been thought through carefully.

It would be interesting to learn other readers' personal and professional (based on for example past or current employment) opinion of this piece of legislation.
4
pearlbrownpearlbrown1,431 posts since
Nov 2, 2010
Rep Points: 6,248
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