LANSING, Mich. – Commissioner Linda Watters of the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance services is asking credit unions and banks in the state for their help to prevent individuals most vulnerable to fraudulent scams from becoming victims. In her letter to financial institutions, the commissioner wrote, “I have become all too familiar with the problem of vulnerable adults who fall prey to fraudulent scams and schemes carried out by skillful con artists. Many of these scams employ trickery to convince vulnerable adults to hand over their life savings, resulting in financial ruin for individuals.” Watters described a voluntary program that’s been developed by the Michigan Family Independence Agency for use by CUs and banks in the state to assist in identifying and reporting suspected cases of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. The FIA protocols provide a basic framework for reporting cases of suspected exploitation. She reminded the financial institutions that anticipating financial concerns regarding potential conflicts with Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act or other state or federal regulations, the seven “relevant” federal regulatory agencies issued a joint opinion letter July 2, 2002 stating that a financial institution can report suspected incidents of financial exploitation, “which entail disclosing nonpublic personal information about its customers, without violating the privacy provisions of the GLBA and the agencies’ respective regulations.” Watters concluded by stating: “Because I know that you share my concern for your customers’ financial well being, I am certain that you would agree that it might make good business sense for your institution to consider whether participating in the FIA program is a worthwhile endeavor. Even if you decide not to work with the FIA, I encourage you, through training or other means, to create an atmosphere of awareness among your front line staff, so that each of your employees is not only well-equipped to recognize the signs of financial exploitation, but is also empowered to take steps necessary to prevent the victimization.”
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