New Tools Vital to Prevent Financial Exploitation of Seniors

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Today, in conjunction with WEAAD, SIFMA had the pleasure of co-hosting a briefing on Capitol Hill with the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) on tools to fight senior financial exploitation. Our theme was “Successfully Fighting Financial Exploitation through Partnerships.”

While there are many forms of elder abuse, SIFMA’s members have been working to address financial exploitation of older Americans. In our pursuit of protecting senior investors, we have identified pathways for long-lasting solutions and unveiled a new program called HelpVul: Helping Vulnerable Adults.

Financial exploitation can take many shapes: they range from romance and phishing scams to family members and caregivers taking advantage of their position of trust. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that 58% of perpetrators of financial exploitation of older adults are family members. Unfortunately, older adults are common targets of these schemes, as they are likelier to have access to assets along with symptoms of cognitive decline.

Financial services professionals who wish to report elder financial abuse often face challenges. State laws differ with respect to what agency one might report to, and the criteria with regard to who is a covered and protected individual under that state’s laws. While financial institutions work with tools such as the ability to hold a transaction under FINRA rules and certain state rules, as well as the ability to reach out to a trusted contact on an account, there are still new avenues to pursue to protect our seniors.

SIFMA, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), and EverSafe, as well as Hunter College received support from the US Department of Justice to fund the development and piloting of an innovative uniform online reporting platform for financial institutions to report suspected exploitation to Adult Protective Services (APS) and state securities regulators in states focused on protecting adults who may be at risk of financial abuse. The primary mission for this project was to standardize and enhance the reporting and investigation of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Now in place in several states and dozens of financial institutions, the development of this platform has established a consistent structure for multi-disciplinary and collaborative interventions across agencies. The mission is to provide vulnerable, older adults with more timely interventions to identify and prevent financial abuse.

The goal of the development of the HelpVul portal was to change the face of reporting and provide a means for financial institutions, APS, state regulators, and other interested parties to work together to address elder exploitation.  Improving the efficiency and security of reporting is a good start. The HelpVul reporting portal also provides a new opportunity for true collaboration between agencies assisting older, vulnerable adults who are at-risk of losing their life savings.

Key benefits of HelpVul include:

  • Communication and case status – Reporting financial institutions are able to refer cases in real time, check case status information from reporting agencies, and communicate with secure messaging about referrals.
  • Collaboration – Platform enables investigating agencies (APS and state regulators) to organize referrals and submit updates, including the agency contact person and case status using one standardized dashboard.
  • The platform prevents duplicate referrals and promotes collaboration by cross-referencing case information.
  • Digital forensic analysis to identify signs and/or patterns of financial exploitation is available.

The platform provides a single portal for financial institutions to report and take action. It harnesses technology to enable standardized and secure communication and multi-disciplinary collaboration between financial institutions, APS, state securities regulators and soon – law enforcement.

The average victim of financial exploitation loses $120,000, and financial institutions lose $1 billion in deposits every year. This doesn’t have to be the case. Resources like HelpVul can protect senior investors and financial institutions by preventing financial abuse.

Protecting senior investors from financial exploitation and the dangers of cognitive decline is a top, long-term priority for SIFMA.  Valuable partnerships, such as HelpVul, are key to protecting seniors and preventing future exploitation.

HelpVul Unified Reporting Portal

HelpVul is a platform designed to address the potential exploitation of at-risk adults by using secure technology to connect financial services, APS and state securities regulators.

For more information or to register, contact us via email at [email protected] or by phone at 888-280-6540.

HelpVul Illustration


[email protected]  |   |   888-280-6540

HelpVul originated under a grant from the US DOJ. Partners include NAPSA, SIFMA and EverSafe.

2023 WEAAD Briefing: Successfully Fighting Financial Exploitation Through Partnerships

SIFMA president and CEO, Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., opens the WEAAD briefing, co-hosted with NAPSA, on Capitol Hill.

Speakers at the 2023 WEAAD Briefing share efforts underway and what we’re collaborating on next.

Browse photos from the WEAAD 2023 briefing:

2023 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - SIFMA & NAPSA

Watch the briefing on demand:


Lisa Bleier is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, Head – Wealth Management, Retirement and State Government Relations at SIFMA. Ms. Bleier serves as the staff advisor for SIFMA’s Board Subcommittee on Private Client/Wealth Management and leads SIFMA’s advocacy on legislation, regulation and business policy that supports the individual investor and the financial advisors that serve them.