Could New Texas Law Thwart Elder Exploitation

Elder financial abuseTexas law aims to provide financial institutions greater authority to stop transactions that they suspect are aimed at defrauding elderly or disabled clients.

An elderly woman in Dallas County recently sold her home and wired the $200,000 proceeds to a mysterious bank account, a victims’ advocate said. The “alleged Nigerian” promised to marry her. But it was a scam, and now the woman is homeless.

To thwart these types of scams, a new law signed by Governor Greg Abbott gives financial institutions greater power to stop transactions like the one described above. Under previous Texas law, some banks, credit unions, and securities firms would routinely stop transactions on behalf of elderly or disabled clients, who they suspected were the victims of fraud. But this new law provides financial firms more freedom to do so. In fact, it gives them immunity from litigation when halted transactions turn out to be legitimate or when fraudulent transactions get by undetected.

The bill passed both the Texas House and Senate easily.  However, the immunity provision was not pleasing to one conservative lawmaker.

“I do not believe that banks should be held harmless when they unreasonably, or without a sound basis, deny access to a person's money,” said state Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, who was one of ten “nay” votes in the Texas House.

But the Texas Bankers Association said it was important for workers in the financial industry to have protection, so they could report perceived fraud to the correct authorities.

The new law also directs financial institutions to set policies that spell out reporting procedures for employees when they suspect an elderly customer may be the victim of fraud.

Despite the new law, advocates say challenges remain. They note that the law doesn’t address the greatest issue concerning the state's role in combating such scammers. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services only has the authority to investigate financial predation, if a relative of the victim attempts to commit the fraud. When strangers try to con the elderly, the cases are usually referred to the Texas Attorney General’s office or local law enforcement. Victims are less apt to get help there because law enforcement is under no obligation to investigate these crimes.

The new law also says that banks can notify a “third party” who is “reasonably associated with the vulnerable adult” to provide assistance when flagging a potentially fraudulent transaction.

Reference: Texas Tribune (September 19, 2017) “New law aims to help elderly Texans fooled by scammers”


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.