New Florida Anti-Fraud Bill to Let Financial Advisors Freeze Clients’ Assets
According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, senior citizens are common targets of fraud and financial abuse, with a combined estimated annual loss of $2.9 billion.
Florida lawmakers are taking action to protect the elderly community from fraud, theft, and financial exploitation with HB 143. The Florida House of Representatives bill passed approval by its second committee in a unanimous vote. The final committee to review will be Commerce Committee. A similar bill in the Florida Senate SB 1466 recently passed the first committee but hasn’t made it through the second round of votes.
What Would This Bill Do?
HB 143 would allow financial advisors, investment brokers, or other authorized banking officials to temporarily freeze a client’s assets if they suspect the client might be a victim of fraud or exploitation.
The bill is intended to protect vulnerable adults, like the elderly, against misuse of funds by someone with fraudulent intentions. But so far, the bill doesn’t account for potential misuse by persons with the authority to freeze the funds.
What Are the Benefits?
Certain red flags like unusual purchases or financial requests can alert an advisor to possible fraud or financial abuse. An unusual request also can be a result of an elderly client’s diminished capacity. Up to 20 percent of people over 65 are reported to have some form of cognitive impairment or dementia.
While the funds in question are frozen, the Florida Office of Regulation can investigate a possible fraud claim. If there is no evidence of attempted theft or abuse discovered, then the funds are released.
Is There a Drawback?
One downside of the bill is that it offers no penalty for banking officials who freeze a person’s account for their own nefarious purposes, such as punishing a client who tries to close their account or wants to stop using the bank’s services.
In the state of Florida, there is a need for this bill, but whether the Commerce Committee will pass it, remains to be seen.
Speak with an Investment Fraud Attorney Today
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If you are looking for an investment fraud attorney to review your rights and options, the investment fraud lawyers at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A. represent individual and institutional investors who have lost money as a result of investment fraud or stockbroker misconduct. We’ve recovered more than $100 million in assets lost to investment fraud and stockbroker misconduct.
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