New Texas law aims to prevent elderly from being victims of scams

Posted at 3:52 PM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:20-04

A new Texas law that went into effect in September aims to prevent vulnerable adults from being the victims of a scam. 

It allows financial institutions to put a hold on a suspicious transaction of an account holder who is elderly or a person with disabilities. The hold placed on any transaction expires on the 10th business day after the date the bank submits a report to the Department of Family and Protective Services.

According to First State Bank Banking Officer Raymond Lucien, in the past the bank notified a bank secrecy officer who reported it to an agency. However, they did not have the authority to put a hold on customers’ accounts.

"At Texas First, we do have a good relationship with all of our customers. We really get to know them on a personal level so anytime there is something that's just not right. If there's a transaction that just doesn't feel right, then we have now with the help of the state passing this bill, we have everything in place to protect those customers,” Lucien said.

Better Business Bureau Regional Director Adam Price said in the U.S. billions are lost every year due to scams.

“The number of reports we get are in the tens of thousands when it comes to any type of financial fraud. Seniors are often most susceptible because they have lived a life, they have some savings and sometimes their mental faculties are not where they used to be,” Price said.

According to AARP, the new law encourages financial institutions to identify and report financial abuse.

“While it’s hard to predict precisely how much money this law will save taxpayers, it’s undoubtedly a powerful tool to stop elder financial exploitation in its tracks,” AARP Texas spokesman Mark Hollis said.

Price agreed this law would help prevent seniors becoming victims of scams.

“The benefit of having something like this is someone not losing their life savings,” Price said.

Lucien anticipates once they explain to customers the reason behind the hold on a transaction, they will understand.

"I don't see too much pushback from it because we live in a world where there is so much fraud going on, that this is just an additional step that we can now do to help our clients going forward,” Lucien said.

Financial institutions could extend the hold to up to 30 days if a federal or state agency requests it. 

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