The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a report about efforts by counties and communities across the country to prevent and respond to financial exploitation of senior citizens.
The report also found a strong collaboration among community stakeholders — such as financial institutions, adult protective services and law enforcement — can be very effective in protecting older residents from financial exploitation, according to a CFPB news release. The bureau also released a resource guide and best practices for communities to follow to combat financial elder abuse.
“Hundreds of counties have developed a community-based approach to protect their seniors and retirees from financial exploitation,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in the news release. “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.”
Recent studies find about 17% of seniors reported they have been victims of financial exploitation, but few cases ever come to the attention of protective services, according to the CFPB. Estimates of losses to elder Americans from financial exploitation range from $2.9 billion to as high as $36.5 billion, the release stated.
The CFPB’s report takes a closer look at how community-based protection partnerships or networks can increase reporting of suspected financial exploitation cases, enhance partner skills and ability to address financial exploitation, and provide valuable consumer and professional education, according to the release.
Some of the CFPB’s recommendations to address elder financial abuse include:
• Creating protection partnerships that include law enforcement and financial institutions. Participation of financial institutions and law enforcement in these partnerships is crucial to improve response to cases. Financial institutions are uniquely situated to detect and act when an elder account holder has been targeted or victimized, and are mandated to report suspected elder financial exploitation under many states’ laws, according to the release.
• Engaging stakeholders such as community-based groups and faith-based organizations that serve residents in ethnically, racially and linguistically diverse and rural communities. These organizations can support community partners’ educational activities and can provide expert services such as translation services and training on cultural competence. Partnerships also should expand into rural areas, which are largely underserved by these community efforts, the release stated.
A copy of the report and recommendations can be found at http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/082016_cfpb_Networks_Study_Report.pdf.
The resource guide is available at http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/082016_cfpb_Network_Resource_Guide.pdf.