CFPB Director Richard Cordray said during a press call on Gramm-Leach-Bliley last week that part of the agency’s mission to improve financial protection for American seniors has “never been more important.”
“Unfortunately, we have seen that older Americans are all too often the victims of financial exploitation,” Cordray said. “They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth – whether it is in retirement savings or home equity. Older Americans are also more likely to experience cognitive decline, which can impair their capacity to recognize financial exploitation and fraud. Recent studies found that financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse – and that only a small fraction of incidents is reported.”
Cordray said the CFPB is dedicated to educating seniors, caregivers and their families in order to prevent senior financial exploitation.
“We believe that employees at financial institutions can be instrumental in preventing such fraud,” Cordray said. “For example, many older consumers are known personally by the tellers in their local banks and credit unions. These employees may be able to spot irregular transactions, abnormal account activity, or unusual behavior that signals financial abuse sooner than anyone else can.”
The CFPB released guidance in coordination with the conference call to clarify that reporting elder financial abuse will not violate the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which establishes how and when a financial institution can disclose personal information to unaffiliated third parties.
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is dedicated to working in every way we can to improve the economic security of America’s seniors – a generation that has earned the right to all the protection we can reasonably afford them,” Cordray said. “We have come to refer to them as the ‘Greatest Generation’ because they have given so much to our nation. Now it is a responsibility we all share to make our best efforts to protect them, as they so richly deserve.”