CFPB Launches Inquiry on Elder Financial Abuse

Bureau Seeks Information on Financial Dangers for Older Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a public inquiry to learn more about the many ways in which older Americans are financially exploited and about the best practices for elder financial management. The inquiry comes as part of today’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day activities.

“Older Americans have lost billions of dollars to the silent crime of financial exploitation,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our older adult population is growing every year, which makes it even more critical that we study this issue. Today, the Bureau will launch a public inquiry to learn more about financial fraud of older Americans and the credentials of financial advisors who counsel them.”

According to a recent industry study, Americans ages 60 and up lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation in 2010. From 2008 to 2010, the study showed a 12 percent increase in the amount of money scammed from seniors. Research has found that women are more likely to be victimized than men and that senior financial exploitation is most frequently perpetrated by family members and other persons in a position of trust.

To help inform the Bureau’s future decisions on this topic, the CFPB seeks comment from the public on a number of senior finance issues:

  • Evaluation of Financial Advisor Certifications and Designations: The Bureau wants to know what people working directly with older Adults as well as the public think about how they can determine the legitimacy and authenticity of the credentials held by financial planners and advisors.
  • Provision of Financial Advice and Planning Information: The Bureau is asking what effective resources are available to help seniors make informed decisions about their financial advisors.
  • Compilation of Fraudulent Uses of “Senior Certifications” and Designations: The Bureau is looking into what sources compile publicly available information on fraudulent or misleading uses of these “senior certifications” and designations.
  • Summary of Financial Literacy Efforts: The Bureau seeks information on what financial education, counseling, or management programs are tailored to the unique needs of older Americans, their families, and their caregivers and how effective they are.
  • Examination of Financial Exploitation of Older Americans: The Bureau is looking for details on the types of unfair, deceptive or abusive practices targeted at Americans age 62 and over (including power of attorney abuse, affinity fraud and other forms of financial exploitation).
  • Evaluation of Fraud Against Older Americans, Including Veterans and Military Retirees: The Bureau wants feedback on what specific types of fraudulent, unfair, abusive, or deceptive practices target older Americans, older veterans, and military retirees. We are aware of fraud involving military retirement and pension funds and want to learn more.

The Bureau wants to help older Americans avoid financial exploitation and encourage them to make good, responsible decisions when they choose their financial advisors. The information gathered from this Request for Information will help to guide future work for the Bureau in this area.

Comments on the Request for Information must be submitted by August 13, 2012.

The Request for Information, submitted to the Federal Register for publication, is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201206_cfpb_rfi_senior_financial_exploitation.pdf

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.