WASHINGTON (September 11, 2009) – The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced its strong support for two bicameral bills introduced in Congress today aimed at protecting senior investors.

Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the “Senior Investment Protection Act” (S. 1661), which targets the misleading use of senior and retiree designations, a problem first identified by state securities regulators and the subject of a NASAA model rule adopted by 18 jurisdictions. Representatives Paul Hodes (D-NH) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) introduced the companion bill (H.R. 3551) in the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers also introduced the “Senior Investor Protection Enhancement Act” (S. 1659/ H.R. 3550) to enhance penalties for violations of securities laws involving senior victims.

“State securities regulators appreciate the dedicated efforts of Sen. Kohl, Sen. Casey, Sen. Gillibrand, Rep Hodes and Rep. Moore to spotlight the growing threat of elder financial abuse and take steps to protect our nation’s seniors,” said NASAA president and Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph.

The Senior Investment Protection Act would provide grants to states to fund additional resources, education materials and staff dedicated to cracking down on meaningless titles used by unscrupulous investment professionals to mislead investors about their expertise in senior financial issues. The bill, an enhanced version of an earlier proposal, now includes a provision to hold insurance professionals to a heightened suitability standard when recommending insurance products to seniors.

The second bill would strengthen regulators’ and law enforcement’s authority to penalize those who take advantage of the financial circumstances of the elderly.

“NASAA believes the predators who intentionally seek to deprive retirees of the savings they have worked their lifetime to accumulate should be subject to enhanced penalties,” Joseph said. “These two bills will assist state securities regulators in their mission to protect every investor, especially seniors who are most vulnerable to fraud and abuse.”

NASAA is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. NASAA’s membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico.