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July 13, 2005

For More Information, Contact:
Hema Sareen Mohan at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO - State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) today announced that SB 1018, his bill to protect elders by making bank, savings and loan, and credit union employees mandated reporters of elder financial abuse, has passed out of the Assembly on a 54-10 vote.  The bill will go back to the Senate for approval of the amendments taken in the Assembly, and then will go to the Governor. 

SB 1018, which Simitian coauthored with Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Davis), requires that bank employees who suspect elder financial abuse immediately notify Adult Protective Services (APS), which investigates reports of elder abuse, or law enforcement authorities. 

“Elder financial abuse requires early notice and immediate action,” said Simitian.  “Bank employees are in the best position to report financial abuse as soon as it happens.  This bill makes sure that they are required to act on their suspicions.  It’s a simple and reasonable way to help protect our growing elderly community against this terrible crime.” 

Bank employees would join other mandated reporters of elder abuse including health care professionals, social workers, nursing home workers, and clergy.  As with other mandated reporters, bank employees would not be liable if their suspicions prove unfounded. 

“Advanced age and accumulated assets makes seniors a tempting target,” said Simitian.  “A simple, timely phone call can help prevent the loss of a lifetime’s savings.”  Simitian decried the current lack of protection for seniors against financial swindles where financial institutions are involved, a policy he characterized as, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

Currently, California has the largest older adult population in the nation—3.5 million people over the age of 65.  This figure is projected to increase by 172% over the next 40 years.  As California’s elder population grows, financial abuse is expected to become even more prevalent. 

“I’m pleased this measure is closer to becoming law,” said Frank Mecca, executive director of County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), a sponsor of the bill.  “It will help ensure a timely response to financial exploitation. The results of elder financial abuse can be devastating to those on fixed or limited incomes, both financially and to their health and well-being.” 

Simitian’s SB 1018 is supported by more than 90 groups comprised of law enforcement agencies, senior organizations and county welfare officials.  The bill had met strong opposition from the California Bankers Association and the California Credit Union League, who have since removed their opposition following a month of negotiations with Simitian and Wolk.

“It’s encouraging that the banks and credit unions are beginning to acknowledge the value of this effort,” Simitian said.  “Ultimately, it will help them to better meet their obligation to protect their customers against fraud; and I believe the amendments to the bill have addressed any legitimate concerns the banking industry may have had.”

“We have been ardent supporters of SB 1018 from the beginning,” said Casey Young, advocacy manager of AARP California.  “It’s a critical measure to help stop the tide of financial abuse cases against elder and dependent adults.  We’re pleased that it’s one step closer to becoming a law.”   

“Seniors and disabled Californians need the protections offered by SB 1018.  Elder financial abuse has become a serious issue and we appreciate Senator Simitian’s efforts to fight for California seniors,” said Gary Passmore, director of the Congress of California Seniors. 

“We believe that the safeguards set up in SB 1018 will provide much needed protections to seniors.  The crime of financial abuse is preventable, and bank employees—who are direct observers of this kind of abuse—can help stop it in time with one simple call,” said Betty Perry, public policy director of the Older Women’s League of California. 

Simitian previously chaired the Legislature’s Select Committee on Elder Abuse.  He proposed SB 1018 after elder advocates voiced concerns about the growing problem of financial abuse at a series of public hearings.  If passed, California will become only the fourth state in the nation to specifically identify bank employees as mandated reporters of elder financial abuse.  Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi have similar laws in place.

To learn more about SB 1018, visit .