Elder Financial Abuse on the Rise

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency reported yesterday a tremendous spike in elder financial abuse among our older adults.

Our older population seem to be the major target by financial scammers these days, so we all need to play a part to look out for them. 

According to the CFPB report, financial abuse is getting worse even though our many financial institutions from banks, credit unions, investment firms are doing their best to combat it. 

The CFPB report highlighted facts, trends and patterns.  Interestingly, the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that are filed by banks, credit unions and other financial service providers revealed elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017, involving more than $6 billion.  This was discovered after the Bureau researched over 180,000 reports filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The reports provide unique data on these suspicious activities, which enhance law enforcement efforts to prevent financial exploitation and punish those responsible. 

Law enforcement officers use the SAR reports to identify those individuals involved in a host of financial crimes especially elder financial exploitation.  The reports are effective tools for law enforcement that help trigger investigations, support ongoing investigations and identify wrongdoers.  The SAR reports are restricted under federal law and generally limited to law enforcement and financial regulatory authorities.  Financial institutions are required to abide by the federal Bank Secrecy Act and report suspicious activity that might include money laundering, tax evasion, criminal activities to the federal government.

Some of the key findings from the CFPB report were:

  • Financial Institutions reported a total of $1.7 billion in fraudsters suspicious activities in 2017, including losses and attempts to steal older adults funds.
  • When monetary losses occurred, older adults lost an average of $34,200.
  • One third of those who lost money were 80 and older.
  • Adults in the 70-79 age group had the highest average monetary loss of $45,300.
  • The losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect. The average loss when the older adult knew the suspect was $50,000 compared to $17,000 when the suspect was a stranger.
  • Checking and savings accounts had the highest monetary losses. The average monetary loss was $48,300 involving checking or savings while the average loss was $32,800 when it involved money transfers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to help protect our older adults from harm, but if you suspect you are a victim of a fraud or a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission

In addition to filing a complaint with the FTC, Our Creative Scam Targeting Older Americans blog post offers wonderful tips if you think you have been scammed.


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