Safety and Security

Consumer Watchdog Warns Against Elder Financial Abuse

Consumer Watchdog Warns Against Elder Financial Abuse

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is urging financial institutions to report any suspicions they may have about financial exploitation of elderly people, the organization said in a release. 

The CFPB is asking that financial institutions file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the government when they think elder financial exploitation (EFE) is happening.

“The (CFPB) is renewing its efforts to alert banks and credit unions to elder financial exploitation as they are uniquely positioned to detect that an older account holder has been targeted or victimized, and to take action,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen L. Kraninger. “The [CFPB] stands ready to work with federal, state and local authorities and financial institutions to protect older adults from abusive financial practices that rob them of their financial security.”

The CFPB also released a report that showed how important it was to tell authorities about EFE. The report was based on a query of 180,000 EFE SARs which were filed from 2013 to 2017. 

The report showed that EFE is something that happens often and is destructive to the parties involved on the victim side. The average loss for adults over the age of 70 is $41,800, and about 7 percent of those in that age group lose more than $100,000. 

The report also showed that less than one-third of EFE SARs were reported to either Adult Protective Services or law enforcement.

As of April this year, 26 states and the District of Columbia make it mandatory to report suspected EFE by either financial institutions or by specified financial professionals. 

“Timely reporting of suspected EFE remains critically important and can lead to effective responses and limitation of losses,” the report said. “The CFPB’s research underscores the prevalence of EFE and the devastating financial harm that it is causing nationwide. Legislative trends suggest that policymakers are seeking ways to increase and enhance reporting of suspected EFE to government entities that can help victims or take action against perpetrators.”

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