OLYMPIA, Wash. (2/11/09)--The Washington Credit Union League and Washington attorney general are asking for support from the state legislature to strengthen the front lines of financial institutions, including credit unions, to help stop financial exploitation of the elderly. John Annaloro, league president/CEO, and Rob McKenna, state attorney general, asked the state legislature to support House Bill 1788 and Senate Bill 5639--a comprehensive bill introduced by the attorney general’s office to improve financial protections for seniors and those with disabilities--in an op-ed article published Tuesday in The Seattle Times. “For years, banks and credit unions have been on the front lines in the battle to prevent financial exploitation of vulnerable adults,” they wrote. “Tellers and branch managers are on guard, observing and reporting the rising number of suspicious transactions by those other than primary account holders. “Local banks and credit unions also have cultivated great working relationships with law-enforcement agencies,” they added. The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would mandate training to improve the ability of credit union and bank employees to identify and report financial exploitation. It also would allow financial institutions to freeze accounts if they suspect suspicious activity, and to better share information with law enforcement. Also, it would increase penalties for those convicted elder abuse. The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), State Rep. Al O’Brien (D-Mountlake Terrace), State Sen. Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham), and State Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor).