CFPB Advisory Offers Steps for Financial Institutions to Protect Seniors

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued an update to a 2016 advisory to financial institutions, which included a series of best practices designed to assist those institutions in protecting seniors who hold certain accounts with them.

In this update of the previous advisory, the CFPB encourages banks and credit unions to report to the most appropriate local, state or federal authorities whenever they suspect that an American senior is that target of elder financial exploitation (EFE).

“The updated advisory focuses on reporting suspected financial abuse,” the CFPB says in its announcement of the advisory update. “It builds on the Bureau’s earlier recommendations and its recent research on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) on EFE.”

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The findings gleaned from recent research on EFE SARs was released this past February, and reported on widespread financial abuse of seniors ranging in sources from offshore scammers to immediate family members. The agency detailed its findings in a dedicated report to inform the public about the rampancy of the issue.

This advisory update also provides additional information about reporting instances of EFE based on federal and state legal changes that have taken place in the intervening time between the release of the notice in 2016 and today. This new analysis of current laws “aims to help financial institutions in their efforts to combat elder fraud,” the CFPB says.

These efforts represent a more proactive posture on the part of the CFPB in countering what it has identified as an increasingly growing problem, based on statistics of SAR filings the Bureau shared earlier this year.

“SAR filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017,” the CFPB said at the time of its data released in February. “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.”

While the exploitation of American seniors is a chronic issue based on this data, it does not seem to be occurring much in relation to reverse mortgages. On a call with the CFPB in April discussing reports of EFE SARs, RMD asked how many of the recorded incidents had a relation to the reverse mortgage industry.

“Both virtual currency and reverse mortgages accounted for less than 1 percent of EFE SARs we examined,” said CFPB analyst Naomi Karp at the time.

Read the full report issued by the CFPB on their updated advisory on reporting EFE to financial institutions. 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.

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