Compliance Bulletin

Elder Abuse Law Extended; Internet Reporting Now Permitted
November 2, 2011

Pursuant to a new California bill SB 718, mandated reporters of elder or dependent adult abuse, including banks, may submit mandatory reports through a confidential Internet reporting tool if the county or long-term care ombudsman implements such a system [1]. Currently, banks are required to report observed incidents of financial abuse by telephone “immediately, or as soon as practicably possible,” followed by a written report sent within two working days to the local adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency. If the reporting employee knows that the elder or dependent adult resides in a long-term care facility, the report must be made to the local ombudsman or local law enforcement agency rather than to APS. Under the new bill, a “county” (which presumably refers to a county’s Adult Protective Services) or long-term care ombudsman program may elect to develop a confidential Internet reporting tool to receive reports of abuse. If the initial report is made through this tool to APS or ombudsman, as applicable, rather than by telephone then the reporter is not required to follow up with a written report [2]. This would represent a significant reduction in the reporting burden on all reporters.

Counties and long-term care ombudsman programs are not required to implement such a system. If such a reporting tool is implemented, the tool must comply with existing confidentiality and security standards [3]. The bill includes a requirement for adopting counties and ombudsman programs to report to the state any changes in the number of mandated reporters that report through the Internet tool, changes in the number of abandoned calls, and other data that indicate the effectiveness of the tool in ensuring the safety and financial security of elder and dependent adults.

A separate bill also enacted this year, SB 33, removes the sunset provision of SB 1018 enacted in 2005 that made banks mandatory reporters of financial elder abuse. That bill had a sunset date of January 1, 2013 and SB 33 removes that sunset date.

Jason Lane was CBA’s lobbyist on SB 718 and SB 33. The bills are effective as of January 1, 2012.

  1. The new reporting tool is authorized in Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15658.
  2. W&I Code Section 15630.1(d)(1).
  3. Those standards are set forth in W&I Code Sections 10850, 15633, and 15633.5. SB 718 also clarifies that information sent and received through the Internet reporting tool may only be used for its intended purpose and is subject to the same confidentiality and privacy requirements that govern nonelectronic transmission of the same information.

The information contained in this CBA Regulatory Compliance Bulletin is not intended to constitute, and should not be received as, legal advice. Please consult with your counsel for more detailed information applicable to your institution.

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