Rhode Island AG’s Office Holds Elder Financial Abuse Training

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office recently held a substantive training program on elder financial abuse for financial institutions, which was well attended by Association member credit unions. The program was offered collaboratively by the Association and the Rhode Island Bankers Association, with support from the Department of Business Regulation.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha created this training program for financial institutions in response to the recently enacted Elder Financial Abuse legislation Chapter 073 (H 5642 SUB A (S 264)). The Attorney General’s Office was tasked with providing training to all financial institutions. The Association provided testimony in support of the measure as it was considered by the General Assembly. Favorable changes were made in the bill relating to additional flexibility both in timing requirements for reports and training at the request of credit unions, thereby reducing the administrative burden.

Molly Kapstein Cote, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Mickaela Driscoll, Elder Abuse Investigator from the Attorney General’s Office provided background on the elements of elder financial abuse, and a comprehensive overview of components of the new law and how credit unions can utilize it to assist elder members and their families. Raymond Lynch, Managing Counsel, Wells Fargo Bank, joined the discussion to distinguish both the obligations and options for financial institutions and their employees under the new law.

Generally, 1 in 10 older adults are victims. In Rhode Island, the age of older adults is lower at age 60. Financial exploitation is found in 1 in 44 cases. Presenters provided a number of key takeaways and addressed:

  • - The complex problem of polyvictimization, and how elder financial abuse is distinguished from other forms of financial crimes by the phenomenon.
  • - Rhode Island’s distinction as the first state in New England to pass the comprehensive, mandated reporting law.
  • - The statute does not change prior reporting obligations, but enhances training and clarifies expectations after reporting.
  • - Self-neglect is not a crime, but must be reported, and is a form of vulnerability as defined by the state.
  • - Practical tips to use in branch settings to help consumers.
  • - The helpful information in the new statute on how a credit union should communicate and discuss the status of a particular case after reporting.  
  • - Third-party reporting options, and both optional and mandated holds on accounts and activity.

One key takeaway from the training was that every credit union should have policies in place that are detailed, and that are clear to employees on when and how to escalate a possible situation of elder financial abuse.

The PowerPoint presentation from the program is available HERE. A recording of the presentation will be made available as soon as possible.

The Association continues to work with state agencies on implementation of the new law, which will include further state-specific training, model policies, and forms. Any questions can be directed to advocacyri@ccua.org.