Kraninger Tackles Elder Abuse

Jul 18, 2019Federal Regulation, Financial Literacy, News

On July 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) updated a 2016 Advisory and Recommendations report that guides financial institutions on how to best respond to elder abuse. The new Advisory includes an updated series of Best Practices meant to be used by banks and credit unions. 

“The Bureau is renewing its efforts to alert banks and credit unions to elder financial exploitation as they are uniquely positioned to detect that an older account holder has been targeted or victimized, and to take action,” said CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger.  “The Bureau stands ready to work with federal, state and local authorities and financial institutions to protect older adults from abusive financial practices that rob them of their financial security.”

In the updated Advisory, the CFPB encourages financial institutions to alert local, state, or federal authorities if they suspect an elderly customer is being exploited for financial gain. The CFPB also recommends that financial institutions file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the federal government if they suspect elder financial exploitation (EFE). 

The federal agency released a research report earlier this year that analyzed 180,000 EFE SARs between 2013 and 2017. The report found that EFE is unfortunately widespread “with an average loss of $41,800 among adults over the age of 70 who sustained a loss and with 7 percent of adults losing over $100,000.” Only a third of those who filed SARs also alerted adult protection services, law enforcement, or other authorities. 

As of April 2019, about half of all states mandate financial institutions to report suspected EFE, which has gradually increased over time. In addition, Director Kraninger appears to have made EFE a priority for her administration, hopefully resulting in less EFE in the years to come.

We have also made financial literacy and the prevention of elder abuse a priority at NAFSA. In fact, we launched a Digital Financial Literacy Program last year that covers a variety of important financial topics, including a module entitled “Protecting our Elders.” There, users can learn how to prevent elder fraud and how to report elder financial abuse. 

Those interested can access the NAFSA’s free Financial Literacy Program here!

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