NASAA Government Affairs Contact
Michael J. Canning
Director of Policy & Government Affairs
NASAA actively advocates the interests of state and provincial securities regulators at all levels of government to protect investors and promote capital markets for the benefit of all investors. Visit NASAA.org for more information about NASAA’s issues advocacy program.
U.S. Legislative Priorities
► Establish Senior Investor Protection Partnership Grant Program
► Reduce Reliance on Payment Systems Most Conducive to Fraud
► Diminished Capacity Legislation
Enact the Senior Security Act
Congress should enact the Senior Security Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will establish a federal Senior Investor Taskforce within the SEC to consult with state securities regulators and law enforcement authorities regarding scams impacting seniors. This Taskforce would facilitate direct dialogue and information sharing between federal regulators and policymakers, and state and local officials. This legislation also mandates a comprehensive Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the costs, causes, and barriers to reporting the financial exploitation of seniors. When completed, such a study would significantly enhance the understanding of the unique challenges and risks facing senior investors and inform future policy initiatives to combat the growing problem of senior financial exploitation.
Enact the Edith Shorougian Senior Victims of Fraud Compensation Act
Congress should enact bipartisan, bicameral legislation to amend the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to establish eligibility for seniors victimized by financial exploitation to be reimbursed from state victim compensation programs.31 Such legislation would significantly benefit senior victims of fraud by creating incentives for states to provide compensatory restitution to elderly victims when no means of comparable financial recovery is possible.
Establish Senior Investor Protection Partnership Grant Program
State securities regulators are well positioned to partner with local and national businesses, senior organizations, and law enforcement agencies to identify scams, fraud and exploitation occurring in their communities. Similarly, federal regulators and federal law enforcement agencies are well positioned to leverage resources on a national and international scale. Congress should investigate ways in which state and federal regulators and law enforcement agencies can combine resources, share information, and collaborate in new and innovative ways to prevent and combat elder financial exploitation.
State regulators have worked to form these partnerships through outreach to prosecutors, police units, other regulators, and adult protective service units. In some states, that outreach includes partnerships with banks, brokers, investment advisers, doctors, lawyers, and other service providers who may be able to identify senior exploitation. We encourage Congress to consider creating a grant program funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or other appropriate agency that would allow state regulators to deepen and accelerate those partnerships, to further investor education, and to better combat senior financial exploitation. We also note that Congress has recognized the acute need to enhance resources in this area, and enacted bipartisan legislation providing for precisely such grants, but that up to now such grants have not been funded.
Reduce Reliance on Payment Systems Most Conducive to Fraud
State securities regulators encourage Congress to explore methods to prevent the unauthorized theft of sensitive financial information from investors, particularly seniors or investors with diminished capacity. Some prepaid debit card companies have taken such steps, such as using an in-person swipe method to reload cards rather than the “PIN” method. We believe opportunities exist to prevent the flow of funds from investment portfolios of senior investors. We encourage Congress to explore and investigate those opportunities.
Diminished Capacity Legislation
State securities regulators are investigating legislative and regulatory changes that can address diminished capacity issues in the context of senior financial exploitation. With at least a third of its members’ enforcement actions involving senior investors, NASAA formed a Board-level committee dedicated to tackling the challenges confronting senior investors, regulators and securities industry professionals. The Committee on Senior Issues and Diminished Capacity, which is comprised of representatives from a broad cross-section of NASAA members, seeks to work with broker-dealer and investment adviser firms, as well as senior advocates, to develop regulatory, enforcement, and investor education initiatives to prevent the financial exploitation of seniors.
Addressing senior exploitation requires a holistic approach, and NASAA has formed an advisory council of experts from government, business, senior advocacy organizations, academia and medical and legal practitioners to ensure diverse input. We look forward to sharing the results of our investigation with Congress, and also encourage Congress to reexamine the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to ensure that important privacy provisions do not inadvertently allow scam artists to exploit investors with diminished capacity.