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September 30, 2011

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William Leiter (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian’s (D-Palo Alto) bill to make permanent protections against elder financial abuse has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The legislation, which makes permanent mandated reporting of elder financial abuse, passed the Assembly and the Senate with unanimous support.

Senate Bill 33 deletes a 2013 sunset date in the Elder and Dependent Adult Financial Abuse Reporting Act. That law, which Simitian authored in 2005 (SB 1018), requires financial institutions to report elder financial abuse when reasonable belief and corroborating evidence indicate that there is abuse.

“Elder financial abuse is a devastating crime,” Simitian said. “Advanced age and accumulated assets make seniors a tempting target; and what’s worse is that all too often the perpetrator is a family member or a caregiver. A simple, timely phone call can help prevent the loss of a lifetime’s savings.”

Simitian noted that in 2005 there was some concern that mandated reporting might not work as planned. Nevertheless, Simitian was “confident that it would help protect seniors from financial abuse, and would not produce frivolous reporting.” Now, he explained, “the evidence demonstrates that mandated reporting works.”

Data from Adult Protective Services shows that the number of confirmed cases of elder financial abuse rose over 16 percent in 2007 when Simitian’s mandated reporting law went into effect.  Between April 2007 and December 2010, financial institutions reported over 26,000 cases of elder financial abuse statewide. Moreover, the percentage of abuse reports that were confirmed as actual cases of abuse remained relatively constant.

“Elder financial abuse requires early notice and immediate action,” Simitian said. “Bank employees are in the best position to report financial abuse as soon as it happens, and the data confirms that. By deleting the 2013 sunset date, we ensure that bank employees continue to act on their suspicions. It’s a simple and practical way to help protect the elderly community.” 
Financial institutions supported Simitian’s effort to make the law permanent. “As bankers, we have a strong commitment to our clients and the protection of their financial assets, and part of that commitment includes watching out for our elderly customers,” said Rodney K. Brown, president and CEO of the California Bankers Association. “We thank Senator Simitian for his leadership on this issue so that we may continue to protect one of our state’s most vulnerable populations.”
California has the largest elder adult population in the nation – more than four million people over the age of 65 – and this figure is projected to double over the next 20 years, according to the California Department of Finance.

“Unfortunately, as our senior population grows elder abuse is expected to become more prevalent, increasing the importance of our efforts to protect senior citizens,” said Simitian. “With the Governor’s signature, SB 33 will ensure that one of the most effective safeguards against elder financial abuse remains in effect.”

Elder advocates are especially strong supporters of the law. “In today’s difficult economy seniors are more vulnerable than ever to financial abuse. We appreciate Senator Simitian’s long-standing leadership in combating elder abuse and pushing through the extension on reporting financial abuse,” said Gary Passmore, Director of the Congress of California Seniors.
In total, a coalition of more than 60 groups supported SB 33, including AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), the California Commission on Aging, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Bankers Association and the California Credit Union League.

For more information on SB 33, visit