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CFPB announces new program to stop elder financial exploitation

cfpbThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a new financial education resource this week aimed at aiding seniors and their families in preventing the growing crime of elder financial exploitation.

“Money Smart for Older Adults,” launched in conjunction with the FDIC, attempts to raise the awareness of older Americans and their caregivers about preventing, identifying and responding to elder financial exploitation.

“With this work, we are building together on the FDIC’s outstanding Money Smart curriculum for financial education, which is the best work of its kind that I have seen in this country,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “I first came across Money Smart as a local official in Ohio, where we enthusiastically spread it to teachers in the surrounding schools. Now today, we are extending this approach with specialized guidance to an entirely new population of seniors. Notably, this information will also be very helpful to the “caretaker generation” of people like myself, who are looking out for an aging parent – my dad is now 95.”

Older citizens are often targeted by unfair, deceptive and abusive financial practices, with one study finding that older Americans lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation in 2010. For each case reported, an estimated 43 others go unreported.

“With 50 million older people in this country, and 10,000 more reaching retirement age every day, we cannot afford to tolerate financial predators or practices that victimize our elder citizens,” Cordray said. “We want to see older adults plan ahead in case they lose their capacity to make financial decisions. They should discuss arrangements with family members they trust. Many seniors and their caregivers turn to financial experts for guidance. In April, we announced the results of a study we conducted on how consumers can identify and verify a financial adviser’s credentials or “senior designations.” We found that a bewildering array of titles and acronyms often confuse and mislead seniors and their caregivers.”

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