Senior Safe Act of 2016

Floor Speech

Date: July 5, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARRETT. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4538) to provide immunity from suit for certain individuals who disclose potential examples of financial exploitation of senior citizens, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 4538

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Senior Safe Act of 2016''. SEC. 2. IMMUNITY.

(a) Definitions.--In this Act--

(1) the term ``Bank Secrecy Act Officer'' means an individual responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements mandated by subchapter II of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code;

(2) the term ``broker-dealer'' means a broker or dealer, as those terms are defined, respectively, in section 3(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a));

(3) the term ``covered agency'' means--

(A) a State financial regulatory agency, including a State securities or law enforcement authority and a State insurance regulator;

(B) each of the Federal financial institutions regulatory agencies;

(C) the Securities and Exchange Commission;

(D) a law enforcement agency;

(E) and State or local agency responsible for administering adult protective service laws; and

(F) a State attorney general.

(4) the term ``covered financial institution'' means--

(A) a credit union;

(B) a depository institution;

(C) an investment advisor;

(D) a broker-dealer;

(E) an insurance company; and

(F) a State attorney general.

(5) the term ``credit union'' means a Federal credit union, State credit union, or State-chartered credit union, as those terms are defined in section 101 of the Federal Credit Union Act (12 U.S.C. 1752);

(6) the term ``depository institution'' has the meaning given the term in section 3(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813(c));

(7) the term ``exploitation'' means the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that--

(A) uses the resources of a senior citizen for monetary personal benefit, profit, or gain; or

(B) results in depriving a senior citizen of rightful access to or use of benefits, resources, belongings or assets;

(8) the term ``Federal financial institutions regulatory agencies'' has the meaning given the term in section 1003 of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Act of 1978 (12 U.S.C. 3302);

(9) the term ``investment adviser'' has the meaning given the term in section 202 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-2);

(10) the term ``insurance company'' has the meaning given the term in section 2(a) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a-2(a));

(11) the term ``registered representative'' means an individual who represents a broker-dealer in effecting or attempting to affect a purchase or sale of securities;

(12) the term ``senior citizen'' means an individual who is not less than 65 years of age;

(13) the term ``State insurance regulator'' has the meaning given such term in section 315 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (15 U.S.C. 6735); and

(14) the term ``State securities or law enforcement authority'' has the meaning given the term in section 24(f)(4) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78x(f)(4)).

(b) Immunity From Suit.--

(1) Immunity for individuals.--An individual who has received the training described in section 3 shall not be liable, including in any civil or administrative proceeding, for disclosing the possible exploitation of a senior citizen to a covered agency if the individual, at the time of the disclosure--

(A) served as a supervisor, compliance officer (including a Bank Secrecy Act Officer), or registered representative for a covered financial institution; and

(B) made the disclosure with reasonable care including reasonable efforts to avoid disclosure other than to a covered agency.

(2) Immunity for covered financial institutions.--A covered financial institution shall not be liable, including in any civil or administrative proceeding, for a disclosure made by an individual described in paragraph (1) if--

(A) the individual was employed by, or, in the case of a registered representative, affiliated or associated with, the covered financial institution at the time of the disclosure; and

(B) before the time of the disclosure, the covered financial institution provided the training described in section 3 to each individual described in section 3(a). SEC. 3. TRAINING REQUIRED.

(a) In General.--A covered financial institution may provide training described in subsection (b)(1) to each officer or employee of, or registered representative affiliated or associated with, the covered financial institution who--

(1) is described in section 2(b)(1)(A);

(2) may come into contact with a senior citizen as a regular part of the duties of the officer, employee, or registered representative; or

(3) may review or approve the financial documents, records, or transactions of a senior citizen in connection with providing financial services to a senior citizen.

(b) Training.--

(1) In general.--The training described in this paragraph shall--

(A) instruct any individual attending the training on how to identify and report the suspected exploitation of a senior citizen;

(B) discuss the need to protect the privacy and respect the integrity of each individual customer of a covered financial institution; and

(C) be appropriate to the job responsibilities of the individual attending the training.

(2) Timing.--The training required under subsection (a) shall be provided as soon as reasonably practicable but not later than 1 year after the date on which an officer, employee, or registered representative begins employment with or becomes affiliated or associated with the covered financial institution.

(3) Bank secrecy act officer.--An individual who is designated as a compliance officer under an anti-money laundering program established pursuant to section 5318(h) of title 31, United States Code, shall be deemed to have received the training described under this subsection. SEC. 4. RELATIONSHIP TO STATE LAW. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt or limit any provision of State law, except only to the extent that section 2 provides a greater level of protection against liability to an individual described in section 2(b)(1) or to a covered financial institution described in section 2(b)(2) than is provided under State law.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4538. It is the Senior Safe Act of 2016, and I would like to thank the sponsors, principally the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Poliquin), also the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney), for all of their hard work in bringing this bill to the floor of the House today.

Mr. Speaker, we spend a lot of time in our committee and this Congress debating ways in which we can help Americans achieve a secure and dignified retirement. And while there are often disagreements about how to achieve that goal, one issue that is not debatable is that we must do everything in our power to stop fraudsters and scam artists from preying on the vulnerable senior citizen.

Currently, Americans over the age of 50 account for roughly 75 percent, over three-quarters of the financial assets of the U.S.; and unfortunately, one in five of those seniors, that is 20 percent, over the age of 65, have been the victim of fraud--one in five. Think of that. This costs senior citizens almost $2.9 billion every year, not to mention the stress and the pain that comes along with it for a person who has been victimized, trying to rebuild their financial security.

Oftentimes, employees of banks or financial advisers are on the front lines against such fraud when they see that one of their clients may be a potential target. Unfortunately, current laws make it very difficult for employees of such institutions to report the occurrences of those frauds.

So what do we do? We come to the floor tonight for something called the Senior Safe Act.

What does it do? It provides a very simple fix that would allow a supervisor or a compliance officer of a bank or investment adviser to report instances of fraud to a Federal or State regulator so long as they reported the matter in good faith and, of course, with reasonable care.

Employees at these institutions want to protect their clients just as much as any regulator does, and so this bill would allow them to speak up when they see fraud that is being unreported. This bill passed the Financial Services Committee last month unanimously, so I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support it today.


Mr. GARRETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her work and her bipartisan effort on this legislation. I very, very much, as I said, thank the gentleman from Maine for all of his contributions to the Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Speaker, today I urge unanimous support in the House like we had in committee.

I yield back the balance of my time.