By State Representative Tan Parker
Across our great state, there is a growing population of Texans over the age of 65. People are living longer, and Texas is home to approximately 4 million “seniors”, a population projected to more than double by the year 2050. Families have more opportunities to share with older parents, bringing together generations and fulfilling each other’s lives. It also means working together to address the needs associated with aging such as long-term care, housing, health, and financial security protections.
Our state has more work to do to ensure older Texans are receiving the care they need, and I look forward to addressing these areas in the upcoming 88th Legislative Session next year. From improving support for caregivers to increasing healthcare and housing options, policymakers must continue the dialogue and prepare to take meaningful actions to assist our most vulnerable populations. This is increasingly difficult especially as historic inflation caused by reckless Democrat spending out of Washington, D.C. is hitting those with fixed incomes the hardest.
During my service as a lawmaker, some of the toughest conversations are the ones shared from families who’s loved one has been the target of any type of abuse. The feelings of helplessness, guilt, and shame are some of the most difficult and heartbreaking to navigate and overcome. Strengthening protections for our most vulnerable Texans has been the bedrock of my legislative work as your state representative, and the need for broader protections remains a critical calling for every state lawmaker as well as leaders in Washington D.C., our local communities, non-profits, and within our very own neighborhoods and homes. The work must be done to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
One area that is far too often overlooked is the subject of financial abuse in our aging population. With cognitive and physical health decline, predators try to position themselves to take financial advantage of seniors with a broad range of scams such as fake IRS notices, sweepstakes tricks, promises of love, and so many more to swindle them out of their hard-earned dollars. It is estimated that seniors are exploited out of over $36 billion per year in the United States. Yet, in recent studies, experts cite that only 17 percent of seniors report having been the victim of financial exploitation, fearing others will believe they are losing their capabilities to live independently.
Over the past 12 years, the total number of fraudulent victimizations has increased by 221% – a horrific and alarming statistic. To help make a difference, I championed legislation specifically aimed to stop exploitation of vulnerable populations by giving financial institutions, securities professionals, and investment advisors more power in the fight against those who are seeking to inflict harm. Texas’ House Bill 3921 (2017), which I authored, authorizes financial institutions to place holds on individual transactions if the institution suspects financial exploitation is occurring. The holds can last a maximum of 10 business days, unless an extended hold is requested by a state or federal agency, or law enforcement investigating the suspected financial exploitation. This extended hold can only last for a maximum of 30 business days after the expiration of the initial hold.
If a financial institution believes exploitation is occurring, they are required to investigate the situation and submit a full report to the Adult Protective Services (APS) division of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The law also requires each financial institution to adopt internal policies, programs, plans, or procedures for placing a hold on a transaction involving an account of a vulnerable adult. It also mandates that cause is established before placing a hold on a transaction as a safeguard. By authoring House Bill 3921, my hope was to see greater protections for vulnerable Texans by allowing an effective way to stop financial abuse at the source and minimize devastating losses. By giving the financial institutions that are closest to seniors a stronger ability to curb exploitation, we are minimizing financial abuse.
Honoring our aging loved ones and providing care, protection, and enrichment for their unique needs is one of our greatest callings in life. I am grateful for the engagement from our community whose stories shaped the policy that is now guiding Texas.
I am grateful to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives. If you would like to share a thought, please contact me at 512.463.0688 or by email at [email protected]. You can also find me on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching @TanParkerTX