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Texas House Committee Hears Bills to Combat Elder Financial Abuse
Monday, April 17, 2017 6:35 AM

The House Investments and Financial Services Committee heard several bills that address the issue of financial abuse of the elderly, defined as being 65 or older. According to committee Chairman Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse. Nationally, it accounts for $36.48 billion in annual losses. The Investments and Financial Services Committee conducted an interim study of the laws and policies that are currently in place regarding financial abuse and determining what more is needed.

HB 3921 by Parker requires financial institutions to investigate suspected financial exploitation and report to Adult Protective Services (APS). It also provides immunity from civil or criminal liability unless the financial institution acted in bad faith. The financial institution that submits a report may place a hold on transactions (and must do so if directed by APS) and is immune from civil or criminal liability if the financial institution acts in good faith regarding whether or not to place a hold. Parker will offer a committee substitute after clarification of APS responsibilities.

HB 3503, the Financial Elder Abuse and Prevention Act by Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), creates a criminal offense for engaging in financial abuse of an elderly person. Depending on the value of the property taken, the offense can range from a class A misdemeanor (<$500) to a felony of the first degree (>$50,000). This bill gives law enforcement the authority to prosecute those who exploit the elderly.

HB 3972 by Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) requires securities dealers and investment advisors to report suspected financial abuse of elders, provides civil immunity for making the report, and allows the dealer or advisor to place a hold on a disbursement when financial exploitation is suspected.

HB 3224 by Rep. Mary Ann Perez (D-Houston) amends the Securities Act to require dealers and investment advisors to report elder abuse. The Texas State Securities Board would develop guides to aid dealers and advisors in identifying financial abuse and best practices in managing the records related to an investigation. The guides would be available online.

All bills were left pending.

For more information, please contact Texas Credit Union Association President Jeff Huffman at 469-385-6488 or jhuffman@txcua.coop.