MADISON — The Wisconsin Credit Union League is urging passage of a key elder financial abuse prevention bill to help seniors targeted for illegal and fraudulent withdrawals and other transactions.
The League will testify in support of the reforms at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, before the Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“Credit unions and other financial institutions need to be able to help vulnerable adults when our employees suspect fraud, and SB 19/AB 46 will go a long way to assist them,” said Sarah Wainscott, Senior Vice President of Advocacy at The League. “This legislation passed the Assembly last session and was awaiting a vote in the Senate in March. We have the opportunity now to get this across the finish line and better protect consumers.”
The bill would allow financial institutions the opportunity to delay transactions, offering time to investigate, prove to the member it is fraud, or involve trusted individuals.
“Credit unions exist to serve their members, and this bill better allows for thoughtful intervention that, in some cases, could save a fraud victim tens of thousands of dollars,” Wainscott said.
SB 19/AB 46 is part of a four-bill package developed by the former Attorney General’s Task Force on Elder Abuse. The reforms implement a variety of changes to strengthen protections for the elderly, according to the sponsors.
SB 19/AB 46 is authored by Assembly Rep. John Macco (R-Green Bay) and Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point).
In a January news release, Macco said: “The last session, we brought together support for these bills from both sides of the aisle, as well as from AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Board on Aging and Long Term Care and the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources. Together, we can reduce elder abuse in Wisconsin.” Macco served on the AG task force’s financial exploitation workgroup.
“We are grateful to the authors for promptly making a renewed push this session,” Wainscott said.
Wisconsin’s 65-and-over population continues to grow, but unfortunately, so does elder financial fraud and abuse. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regarding elder financial exploitation has increased dramatically across the country in recent years.
This type of exploitation is widespread, and the CFPB estimates an average loss of nearly $42,000 among adults over 70 who sustained a loss.
“Credit unions are on the frontlines and capable of helping prevent this type of abuse – but they must be empowered to do so and SB 19/AB 46 does that,” Wainscott said.