Our Opinion: Protecting seniors and the disabled from fraud

We're on board with a bill signed last week by Gov. Jay Nixon to help protect senior and disabled Missourians from financial exploitation.

The new law empowers and protects financial advisers who block transactions they deem suspicious.

If a financial adviser who represents a client who is over 60 or disabled blocks a transaction, the adviser must notify the Department of Health and Senior Services and the state commissioners of securities. The adviser also is required, within two days, to attempt to contact someone, such as a family member, authorized to transact business on the account.

The hold expires after 10 days or when additional professional review finds no misconduct, whichever is sooner.

In addition, advisers who block transactions are protected from civil liability.

The legislation was approved overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate.

"It's a common-sense way of making sure we're protecting our seniors and those who are disabled from some of the scams and fraudulent activity that's taking place where their life savings can be gone very quickly," said Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale and bill sponsor.

Opposition to the measure focused largely on eliminating a client's ability to seek legal action if they disagree with a financial adviser.

We have reservations about restricting a person's right to seek a court judgment, and we are aware that any profession may have "bad actors."

But the law doesn't eliminate transactions, it only provides a method to delay suspicious activities until more information is revealed.

Essentially, it is a protection plan, not a prohibition.

Sadly, past experience has demonstrated that senior and disabled citizens have been victimized by fraud and stripped of their assets.

The protections in this law are reasonable and practical.