Advisors at Wells Fargo will stop transactions where they suspect elder fraud even if they don’t have the legal authority, company managing counsel Beverly Jo Slaughter said Thursday.
Sometimes Wells Fargo has to take the risk of being sued for improperly withholding money to protect senior customers, Slaughter said at a Practising Law Institute seminar.
“We try to be creative,” she said.
The Wells Fargo Elder Services Program is working to have other states, including its home state of Missouri, give financial professionals the ability to stop transactions involving elder accounts when they suspect fraud, she said.
One of the problems the Elder Services Program has in protecting seniors is some states only recognize nursing home abuse and not financial exploitation, Slaughter said.
A frequent form of exploitation seen by Wells Fargo advisors is when senior clients come to them with requests for their money from foreign friends who just arrived in the U.S.
To which attorney Joseph Peiffer, president of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, interjected, “I see a lot of people who come into my office who have a new, young foreign friend. It is awful to deal with.”
Wells Fargo is giving courses to brokers on how to take notes so they have concrete evidence of the intentions of elderly clients when they die or become infirm, Slaughter said.
Finra’s senior help line has received 1,000 calls since it was launched in April, said Gerri Walsh, president of Finra’s Education Foundation.
The average age of the caller is 70, she added, with the calls coming from a mix of brokerage clients, beneficiaries of estates and executors.