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Gov. Henry McMaster Signs Bill to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

July 28, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by members of the General Assembly and state leaders for a ceremonial bill signing of S. 425, a bill that protects vulnerable adults from fraudulent financial transactions. The new law allows financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, and other financial service companies to decline, delay, or report transactions that are suspected of financially exploiting vulnerable adults or seniors aged 55 or older. 

“Taking advantage of vulnerable adults for financial gain happens all too often in this country,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “Enabling our financial institutions to take action and fight back is an important step in protecting South Carolinians from exploitation and will help to ensure their financial security.” 

The bill allows, but does not require, the following: 

  • Reporting of financial exploitation to the Adult Protective Services Program in the Department of Social Services and the Securities Division of the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Hold on disbursements for up to 30 days, with limited authorized extensions, while the financial exploitation report is investigated.

When acting in good faith, any financial institution or professional who reports suspected financial exploitation is granted immunity from criminal, civil, or administrative liability for declining or delaying transactions.

“The impact of vulnerable adult and elder abuse is felt by all of South Carolina’s citizens, costing victims across the United States billions of dollars each year,” said S.C. Department of Social Services Director Michael Leach. “We at DSS are aware of the challenges vulnerable adults face every day, and it is up to all of us to say something if we see abuse or neglect in our communities.”

A vulnerable adult is defined as a person 18 years of age or older with a physical or mental condition, which substantially impairs the person from adequately providing their own care.

“This has been a team effort to put our seniors and vulnerable adults first,” said South Carolina Senator Thomas Alexander. “The banking and investment industries have stepped up and brought solutions to the table that will work for everyone, and protect the assets of individuals who have worked hard for their money.”

South Carolina joins 31 other states in passing similar legislation.