RALEIGH, N.C. (7/29/13 UPDATED 2:25 p.m. ET)--North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed into law Senate Bill 140, a league- and credit union-backed bill that enhances efforts by the state's financial institutions to prevent the exploitation of older adults.
"Fraud committed against the elderly is on the rise, and North Carolina's credit unions want to do more to protect seniors," said Lauren Whaley, director of legislative and regulatory affairs at the North Carolina Credit Union League.
"This legislation will give credit unions more responsibility to detect and halt fraudulent transactions and at the same time, credit unions could decide what best practices for curbing elder financial abuse are most suited for their membership, Whaley said.
"The league was very engaged in the legislative process to ensure the bill passed this session," she said, adding that it already is planning a training resources workshop with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, North Carolina Bankers Association and the state Attorney General's Office.
The call for the legislation was a cooperative effort between the league, attorney general's office, State Employees' CU and the bankers association, said the Raleigh-based SECU, the state's largest credit union with $26 billion in assets.
The Financial Exploitation of Older Adults law increases the recognition, reporting and prosecution of those who would defraud older or disabled adults by facilitating the collection of records needed to investigate and prosecute scammers.
It requires all financial institutions in the state to report to appropriate authorities cases where there is reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult over 18 or adult 65 or older is the victim or target of financial exploitation, said SECU. The law ensures that no financial institution employee or officer acting in good faith when making a report may be held liable. It also encourages financial institutions to offer older adult members the opportunity to submit a list of trusted persons to be contacted in case of financial exploitation.
SECU said it has an emergency contact service in place for members 60 years or older. Other services it offers older members include reverse mortgages, tax preparation services, estate planning essentials program, and a resource library that cover topics such as health care, Social Security, and powers of attorney.