Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report Finds Hundreds of Counties Nationwide Fighting Elder Financial Abuse with Community Efforts

CFPB Issues Guide and Best Practices to Help Communities Create Protection Partnerships for Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report that found that hundreds of counties around the country have developed coordinated community-based efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial exploitation. The report also found that a strong collaboration among community stakeholders – like financial institutions, adult protective services, and law enforcement – can be very effective in protecting their older residents from financial exploitation. To help other communities across the country create their own protection partnerships to fight elder financial abuse, today the CFPB also released a resource guide and best practices.

“Hundreds of counties have developed a community-based approach to protect their seniors and retirees from financial exploitation,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We’ve learned that an ‘all hands on deck’ strategy can be very effective to fight elder financial fraud. Our new guide and recommendations can help more community stakeholders build these very helpful networks to pool information, expertise, and resources in addressing this growing crisis.”

Older Americans are attractive targets for financial abuse because they may have significant assets or equity in their homes and usually have a regular source of income such as Social Security or a pension. They may also be especially vulnerable due to isolation, cognitive decline, physical disability, or other health problems. In recent studies, about 17 percent of seniors reported that they have been victims of financial exploitation, but few cases ever come to the attention of protective services.

Elder financial exploitation destroys the financial security of millions of older Americans annually – estimates of losses to elder Americans range from $2.9 billion to as high as $36.5 billion. To tackle this rapidly growing problem, communities across the country are working to bring together local stakeholders and resources to build protection partnerships. Protection partnerships, sometimes called “networks,” can make it easier for different community stakeholders to detect and respond to elder financial abuse through a variety of activities, including case review and consultation, community education, and professional training and advocacy.

The CFPB’s report takes a closer look at how protection partnerships to combat elder financial abuse operate in several communities and their effectiveness in responding to elder financial abuse. The report found that these voluntary community-based partnerships can increase reporting of suspected financial exploitation cases, enhance partner skills and ability to address financial exploitation, and provide valuable consumer and professional education. Some recommendations to help community stakeholders to develop or enhance their elder financial abuse response and prevention efforts include:

A copy of the report and recommendations: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/082016_cfpb_Networks_Study_Report.pdf

A copy of the resource guide: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/082016_cfpb_Network_Resource_Guide.pdf

Consumers who suspect they or a loved one has been a victim of financial exploitation can visit www.eldercare.gov to find a local adult protective services agency and other service providers that can help.

 

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