S.1093, Valesky: In relation to authorizing banks to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation

Published on February 13th, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would authorize banking organizations to refuse to disburse moneys in circumstances where there is reason to believe that a vulnerable adult may be being financially exploited.

This legislation would allow, but not require, a banking institution to act to protect the financial assets of a vulnerable adult from theft or conversion by relatives or other caregivers.  The elderly, those aged 65 and older, are the fastest growing segment in this country.  They are vulnerable to varying types of abuse, including physical, psychological and financial.  The proposed amendment to the Social Services Law would add a provision to the Adult Protective Services section to cover financial abuse.  If a bank reasonably believes that financial abuse of a vulnerable person is occurring, they may refuse to honor the transaction and provide law enforcement or social service officials with documents relevant to the suspected financial exploitation.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the protection of vulnerable adults from financial exploitation, and urges enactment of this legislation.  Encouraging the reporting of suspected financial abuse of vulnerable adults is an important public policy goal.  It is important that society take actions to protect those who are vulnerable to financial exploitation as a result of physical or developmental disability or age related dementia.

The State Office for the Aging, utilizing data from the U.S. Census, has projected that in 2025 the age 60 plus population in New York will reach 4.4 million.  Society must be prepared to meet increased needs of “the baby boomers.”  The Catholic Conference advocates for public policies that promote economic and social independence among aging New Yorkers.  As elderly individuals amass greater assets they may become attractive targets for financial abuse. Social Security payments have reduced the percent of elderly persons living in poverty.  The poverty rate for persons 65 or older has dropped to an historic low.  Catholic social teaching calls on policy makers to maintain our commitment to vulnerable individuals and calls upon people of good will to support a social contract that reflects our enduring commitment to those in our community and nation, as members of one human family.

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