TRENTON, NJ – With the goal of preventing the financial exploitation of elderly New Jersey residents, legislation to increase protections for adults at risk of falling victim to financial crimes was signed into law Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.

“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for senior citizens to be taken advantage of by people seeking to take their money, property, assets or identities,” said John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “These crimes often go unreported and untracked. The good news is financial exploitation can be prevented with the right protections in place.”

The law (formerly bill A-5091) provides that when a qualified individual believes the financial exploitation of an eligible adult has occurred or been attempted, they must notify the Bureau of Securities in the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety and the applicable county adult protective services provider. A “qualified individual” is defined under the law as any agent, investment adviser representative or other person who serves in a supervisory, compliance, or legal capacity for a broker-dealer or investment adviser.

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Additionally, the qualified individual must notify any third party previously designated by the eligible adult, unless the third party is the party suspected of the financial exploitation.  The qualified individual who makes disclosure in good faith would be immune from administrative, civil or criminal liability.

An eligible adult is defined as a person 65 years of age or older or a person subject to the “Adult Protective Services Act.”

“Elderly people are often the target of scammers aiming to trick them into giving them money or divulging information, from telemarketing calls to solicitation for fake charities or causes,” said Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “In fact, one in 20 older adults has indicated some form of perceived financial mistreatment, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association. Our senior citizens deserve far better. The protections outlined in this law will help keep older adults safe from financial exploitation and bring perpetrators to justice.”

“It’s heartbreaking to think that scam artists are ready and willing to solicit money from senior citizens, simply because they are vulnerable,” said Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “No one deserves to fall victim to these crimes, especially our seniors. This law takes an integral step to safeguard the elderly from financial exploitation.”

The law also provides that a broker-dealer or investment adviser may delay a disbursement from an eligible adult’s account if it may result in financial exploitation. In such cases, a broker-dealer or investment advisor is immune from any administrative or civil liability.

Additionally, the broker-dealer or investment adviser is required to provide access to or copies of records that are relevant to the suspected or attempted financial exploitation of an eligible adult to agencies charged with administering state adult protective services laws and to law enforcement.  The statute provides that those records shall not be deemed public.

In December, the law passed the full Assembly 77-0, and the Senate 38-0.