12/26/2015 - New program seeks to protect seniors from financial exploitation

Banks and credit unions in Maine have trained more than 300 tellers to identify and report suspected financial abuse of seniors as part of a state-sponsored program that is becoming a model for the nation. So far, eight training sessions have been held in Portland and Bangor as part of the Senior$afe program. The program is a joint initiative launched in early 2014 by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Aging and Disability Services; the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which includes the Maine Office of Securities; the Maine Bankers Association; the Maine Credit Union League, the state’s Legal Services for the Elderly; and all five Area Agencies on Aging.

Since the program began, banks and credit unions have reported nearly 30 suspected cases of abuse to a special hotline set up for the Senior$afe program that have been investigated by the state Office of Securities and other agencies. Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who co-chairs the program, testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this year to tout the program’s effectiveness. In November, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored a bill that would expand the Senior$afe program nationwide.

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