CFPB calls for financial institutions to partner with communities against elder exploitation

by Ryan Smith24 Aug 2016
Financial institutions and other community stakeholders can be very effective in protecting seniors from financial exploitation, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Senior citizens are often targets for financial exploitation. They may have significant equity in their homes or other assets, and often have a regular income from a pension or Social Security. Many seniors are especially vulnerable because of isolation or cognitive decline.

However, a recent CFPB study found that many counties around the country have developed community-based efforts to prevent elder abuse – and those efforts work best when local financial institutions, adult protective services and other community stakeholders take an active role. As a result of the study, the agency has released a resource guide and best practices to help fight the financial exploitation of older Americans.

“We’ve learned that an ‘all hands on deck’ strategy can be very effective to fight elder financial fraud,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our new guide and recommendations can help more community stakeholders build these helpful networks to pool information, expertise and resources in addressing this growing crisis.”

Financial exploitation of seniors “destroys the financial security of millions of older Americans annually,” according to the CFPB.  Seniors are estimated to lose anywhere from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually from financial exploitation.

But the CFPB said that community partnerships – especially those involving financial institutions – can help prevent elder exploitation.

“Participation of financial institutions and law enforcement in these partnerships is crucial to improve response to cases,” the CFPB stated. “Financial institutions are uniquely situated to detect and act when an elder account holder has been targeted or victimized, and are mandated to report suspected elder financial exploitation under many states’ laws.”

To read the CFPB’s full report and recommendations on elder exploitation, click here.


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