CFPB Warns of ‘Quadrupled’ Reports of Elder Financial Abuse

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is warning of reported widespread financial abuse of seniors ranging in sources from offshore scammers to immediate family members. The agency detailed its findings in a new blog at the agency’s website, and has released a dedicated report to inform the public about the rampancy of the issue.

In response to the increasing prevalence of the issue, financial institutions are, “filing hundreds of thousands of reports with the federal government about these suspicions,” and the agency’s new report highlights key details of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that the institutions have submitted to it.

Among the data revealed in the report, there is an increasing level of frequency in financial scams targeting older Americans.

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“SAR filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017,” the CFPB said in its blog post announcing the report’s release. “In 2017, financial institutions filed 63,500 SARs reporting elder financial abuse. Yet these SARs likely represent only a tiny fraction of the actual 3.5 million incidents of elder financial exploitation estimated to have happened that year.”

The reports are also not limited only to banks or credit unions, but also extend to money services businesses used by consumers to wire money. Older adults aged between 70-79 reportedly lost around $43,300, but the figure of average loss grows to around $50,000 in cases where the victim knew their scammer.

While financial institutions are more frequently filing SARs with the CFPB on these issues, there is less indication that instances of elder financial abuse are being reported to first responders or authorities.

“Fewer than one-third of elder financial exploitation SARs specify that the financial institution reported the activity to adult protective services, law enforcement, or other authorities,” reads the CFPB blog post. “If the financial institution is not reporting to these authorities, this is a missed opportunity to strengthen prevention and response.”

Those who may know a victim or potential victim of elder financial abuse are encouraged to report the incident to a local office of Adult Protective Services (APS), which can be found through the organization’s website. Scams or fraud should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using that agency’s complaint form.

For more information, read the CFPB’s blog and the full report.

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