Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

September 29, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Marylandís Project SAFE Will Train Bank Personnel

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today his public/private partnership to stop adult financial exploitation, Marylandís Project SAFE, at a press conference at The Columbia Bank in Lutherville. Joining Curran for the announcement were officials from the Department of Aging, Department of Human Resources and the Maryland Bankers Association.

The project was developed in conjunction with the passing of a new law, which goes into effect Monday, October 1, that allows bank employees to report cases of suspected financial exploitation to Adult Protective Services. Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) is a program designed to train tellers and supervisors to detect the warning signs of financial exploitation of its vulnerable adult customers. Each financial institutionís internal procedures then determine when and who will report the alleged crime to Adult Protective Services. Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 816, financial institutions instructed their employees not to report such cases because they were feared they would be in violation of the Confidential Records Subtitle of the Financial Institutions Article.

"This law has been a long time coming," Attorney General Curran said. "The financial horror stories I have heard over the years have been equaled in number only by the cries of frustration by the caring bank personnel who deal with these people every day. This initiative and this law will go a long way toward stopping these abuses and will protect a large and valued segment of society - our seniors."

Valerie Richardson also spoke at the press conference. She told the story of her fatherís exploitation, which she discovered by accident - she was in the bank at the same time the exploiter brought her elderly father in to withdraw money.

Marylandís Project SAFE was modeled after programs in Oregon and Massachusetts. Utah and Maine have also adopted similar programs.