Prepared Remarks of CFPB Director Richard Cordray at the White House Conference on Aging

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working hard to make financial markets work better on behalf of 320 million American consumers. In particular, our new agency specifically recognizes the need to protect older Americans against financial exploitation and promote economic security later in life. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, that mission has never been more important.

Our Office for Older Americans has done much great work around elder justice, the topic of the upcoming panel. Our team has traveled the country listening to older Americans. Based on what we heard, we have issued studies, guides, and advisories to arm seniors and their caregivers with the information and tools they need to protect themselves and their precious retirement savings.

Unfortunately, we have seen that older Americans all too often fall prey to financial exploitation. They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth in the form of retirement savings or home equity or both. They may develop impaired capacity and they can be isolated and vulnerable.

Recent studies found that financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, but only a small fraction of incidents is ever reported. So we are calling on financial institutions to do their part to help protect older Americans. The Consumer Bureau will release an advisory later this year to help financial institutions prevent, recognize, and report elder financial abuse. When seniors fall victim to a scam or to theft by a trusted family member, they may be too embarrassed or too frail to pursue legal action or even to report that they have suffered harm. So it is crucial that others are looking out for them. Financial institutions are especially well-positioned to prevent such fraud.

The Consumer Bureau was born out of the recent financial crisis, and our work is still in its early stages. But as the American economy recovers, we want consumers of all ages to be able to look ahead with hope and resilience. We want them to know they have a new agency standing on their side and looking out for their interests, to help restore confidence and trust in the consumer financial marketplace. With your help and advice, we are glad to work with you to do that.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of the Social Security Act. As we celebrate all the benefits these laws have brought to countless Americans, let’s not forget all there is still to do. I look forward to today’s discussion, facilitated by Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee. She has been an excellent partner in this work and a strong leader of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. Thank you.

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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.