Banks and credit unions in Maryland will soon be required to report any suspected instances of financial elder abuse beginning this October. Under the terms of the new law, financial institutions with Maryland customers 65 or older must contact state officials any time they suspect the customer has been victimized by some sort of financial abuse.
The law requires the financial institution to call state representatives within 24 hours of discovering the suspected abuse. If the bank or credit union fails to make the report, it faces a fine of up to $5000.
The Maryland law is similar to laws that about 20 other states currently have. All of them are designed to curtail the increase in financial abuse that the elderly have suffered. It’s estimated that Americans age 50 and older own about 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. Because these people are often more isolated and less able to detect scams or financial cons, they are often the ideal victim for fraudsters.
Surveys show that about 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older have suffered some form of financial abuse, resulting in a loss of about $2.9 billion per year. The amount of money scammed from the elderly also appears to be increasing from year to year.
Though Maryland used to have a law that gave banks the right to voluntarily report suspected instances of fraud without being prosecuted for violating confidentiality laws, the new law imposes a mandatory reporting requirement.