CFPB Cites Reverse Mortgages in Senior Protection Goals

As part of its National Consumer Protection Week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) outlined how it will work to prevent elder financial abuse

Reverse mortgage scams represented some of the incidents of elder financial abuse that the CFPB has noticed in the past couple of months. 

In one case, CFPB notes that a handyman convinced an elderly woman to give him power of attorney. The man then took out a reverse mortgage on her home, which the woman had owned since the 1950s, and she never saw a dime of the loan proceeds. 

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Other incidents involved caregiver schemes, where ailing seniors had money stolen from them, as well as corporate scams where an investment firm had been charged with 66 felony counts for bilking older investors of more than $2.3 million over an eight-year period. 

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified troubling cases for social service, criminal justice and consumer protection agencies.

These included exploitation by in-home caregivers, agents with power of attorney, and financial service providers, like the cases mentioned above. 

After hearing concerns that echoed what the GAO report noted, the CFPB shared its concerns with Congress shortly after the report was released, detailing what it would be doing to combat problems of elder financial abuse.

Solutions included developing guides for family members and members with legal authority to handle money for older relatives or friends that do not have any formal training. 

“These guides will help people understand proper record keeping, good frameworks for investing, and other basics of managing a vulnerable adult’s money,” writes Skip Humphrey, assistant director at the CFPB’s Office of Older Americans. 

CFPB is also working on producing a guide for people who operate group living centers dedicated to serving older adults, such as nursing homes and assisted living communities. Additionally, the agency is also working toward establishing partnerships with organizations to help distribute this information. 

Another step in protecting the elderly from financial schemes calls for partnering with the FDIC to create Money Smart for Older Adults, a community education and training program for older adults and for caregivers. 

Finally, CFPB also says it is coordinating with stakeholders in several states to create multi-disiplinary older American protection networks.

The agency also says it is developing strategies to communicate that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act does not prohibit companies from reporting suspected elder financial exploitation, as this is often a point of confusion for many of them.

Written by Jason Oliva

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