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Senate Joint Resolution 678 (SJR 678)

Study on Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults in Tennessee Final Report

Executive Summary

The population of Americans over the age of 65 is growing at an unprecedented rate as more and more baby boomers are moving toward retirement age. The American Bankers Association estimates that individuals over the age of 50 control more than 70% of the wealth in the United States. Unfortunately, seniors and vulnerable adults are often very attractive targets for financial exploitation, as they may have equity in their homes and commonly have steady monthly income in the form of Social Security benefits and pensions.

Senate Joint Resolution 678 (SJR 678) was sponsored by Tennessee State Senator Rusty Crowe and passed through the General Assembly during the 109th Regular Session (2015-2016). The resolution was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on May 9, 2016. SJR 678 requires the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) to "work with the Tennessee Bankers Association, the Tennessee Credit Union League, and other appropriate organizations to develop a list of recommended changes to current Tennessee law that would assist financial institutions in protecting consumers from fraudulent and other questionable transactions."

The research, meetings, and surveys conducted pursuant to the requirements of SJR 678 demonstrate that vulnerable adult and elder financial exploitation is a problem in Tennessee. We have been provided the chance to take action and provide Tennessee citizens and financial institution account holders and members with the tools and resources to combat elder financial exploitation. We strongly believe that implementing all or part of the recommendations included in this report could make a real, measurable difference for Tennesseans both now and in the years to come.

About the Report

This report was prepared by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD). The Commission worked with the Tennessee Bankers Association and the Tennessee Credit Union League, as well as with the Departments of Financial Institutions and Human Services, and with the State's Attorney General's Office in compiling the information in this report. Because different organizations can have differing opinions of recommendations and potential new programs, it should be made clear that this report and the recommendations listed herein are solely the responsibility of TCAD. Although some ideas have been taken directly from other parties, TCAD does not want readers to conclude or imply that any of the parties with which we worked are in support of all or any of the conclusions and recommendations made herein.

Many of the recommendations made within this report came about as a result of numerous meetings held with various parties across the state. TCAD is making these recommendations based on discussions from community meetings, survey results received and interpreted by TCAD, and TCAD's research on legislation and best practices from other states. The specifics, with respect to the recommendations and statutory language, were not discussed or shared at community meetings or with any other stakeholder, and no state agency or other stakeholder has provided comment on these recommendations from a policy, fiscal or regulatory standpoint.

Download the full report in PDF format.