March 11, 2013

CFPB blog spotlights elder financial abuse

GAO elder financial abuse report

In November, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on elder financial abuse.

March 12, 2013 – A March 8 CFPB blog post underscores the devastating impact of elder financial exploitation and notes what the bureau is doing to address the problem.

Written by Skip Humphrey, assistant director for the CFPB's Office of Older Americans, the post notes that the CFPB has heard about several cases of elder financial abuse involving caregivers, agents with power of attorney, and financial service providers. These cases, which echo findings from a November 2012 Government Accountability Office report on elder financial abuse, demonstrate the need for family members and others to help spot and prevent these crimes, he wrote. The GAO report noted the need for a national strategy for addressing elder financial exploitation.

NAFCU, in response to a CFPB request for information on elder financial exploitation last summer, noted that credit unions are leaders in financial education and target their efforts to all their members, including seniors. It said credit union staff involved in those efforts are trained and knowledgeable in handling a number of complex situations and recognize seniors have been targets of fraud by family members.

The Officeof Older Americans is combatting elder financial exploitation in a number of ways, Humphrey writes, including developing guides for family members and others with legal authority to handle money for older relatives or friends. It is also producing a guide for individuals who operate group living centers that serve older adults, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and will be establishing partnerships to help distribute information.

In addition, it is also:

  • partnering with the FDIC to create Money Smart for Older Adults, a community education and training program for older adults and caregivers.
  • coordinating with stakeholders in several states to create and sustain multi-disciplinary older American protection networks.
  • developing strategies to communicate that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act generally does not prohibit companies from reporting suspected elder financial exploitation. Humphrey notes that this is often a point of confusion.

The Office of Older Americans is encouraging consumers to get in touch to learn more about how to spot elder financial exploitation and to share their stories.