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Legislature sends governor bill targeting financial exploitation of dependent adults

DES MOINES — The Iowa legislature has sent the governor a bill to give investment advisors some legal protection for reporting suspicions that someone who cannot manage their own finances is being fleeced.

“It defines financial exploitation as wrongfully depriving eligible persons of assets, properties, etc.,” said Senator Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge.

The proposal is patterned after laws in 27 other states. It outlines when financial advisors can delay transactions if they suspect it’s not in the best interest of a dependent adult. Advisors who report suspicious financial activity to authorities would be shielded from lawsuits. Representative Jon Jacobsen of Council Bluffs read from a Boston College paper during House debate of the bill.

“A 2018 report by the US (Securities and Exchange Commission) estimated 90% of older adults who suffer financial abuse are exploited by trusted individuals such as neighbors, care providers, church officials or family members,” Jacobsen said, “and that accumulated losses can be in excess of $3 billion a year.”

In a separate bill, legislators are setting aside money so the Iowa Insurance Division can hire an investigator to focus on complaints about financial fraud targeting elderly and dependent adults. Legislators are also asking for a yearly report on how many dependent Iowa adults are victims of financial exploitation.

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