Minnesota seniors have more defenses against financial fraud, thanks to a law that took effect Wednesday that was proposed by the Minnesota Commerce Department and supported by senior advocacy groups as well as financial service providers.

The Safe Seniors Financial Protection Act equips financial professionals with new tools to protect senior and vulnerable adult clients by working with the Commerce Department to prevent and stop suspected fraud. 

“These financial professionals are a first line of defense, and this law will strengthen their ability to defend seniors against financial exploitation.” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman.

Under the new law, broker-dealers and investment advisers are authorized to report suspected financial exploitation against a senior or vulnerable adult client to the Commerce Department at 952-237-7571 or the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center at 1-844-880-1574. They may also disclose information to a trusted third party designated by the senior client.

Withdrawals and transfers from an account may also be temporarily delayed to prevent financial loss and give investigators time to intervene. There is immunity from administrative or civil liability as long as the financial professional acts in good faith to prevent fraud.

“We were pleased to collaborate with the Department of Commerce to give broker-dealers the tools they need help protect their senior clients,” said Robyn Rowen, executive director of the Minnesota Insurance and Financial Services Council.

It is estimated that one out of every five persons over 65 has been victimized by a financial swindle. Older Americans are defrauded out of $3 billion annually, according to financial regulators. The threat of senior financial fraud  grows with the aging of the Baby Boom generation..

“The Financial Planning Association of Minnesota realizes the value both to our profession and to consumers in providing additional financial safeguards to certain segments of our community that this legislation will provide,” 

“Advisers will now be equipped with additional tools to protect older adults and vulnerable adults.” said Jason Kley, president of the Financial Planning Association of Minnesota. 

The new law closely follows model legislation approved by the member states of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

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