The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an updated advisory to financial institutions urging them to report to the appropriate local, state and federal authorities whenever they suspect that an older adult is the target or victim of financial exploitation. The Bureau also recommended that financial institutions file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the federal government when they suspect elder financial exploitation.
“Banks and credit unions are uniquely positioned to detect when an older account holder has been the target or victim of elder financial abuse, and to take action,” said Naomi Karp, senior policy analyst in the Office for Older Americans.
The updated advisory builds on the Bureau’s earlier recommendations and its recent research on elder financial abuse. It contains voluntary best practices to help financial institutions prevent and respond to EFE.
In a 2019 research report, the Bureau underscored the importance of reporting EFE to the relevant authorities based on a study of 180,000 EFE SARs filed from 2013 to 2017. The Bureau found that EFE is widespread and damaging, with an average loss of $41,800 among adults over the age of 70 who sustained a loss and with seven percent of adults losing over $100,000. The Bureau’s analysis of SARs found that less than one-third of EFE SARs (28 percent) state that the filing institution also reported the activity directly to Adult Protective Services, law enforcement or other authorities. As of April 2019, 26 states plus the District of Columbia mandate reporting of suspected EFE by financial institutions or specified financial professionals.
Members are also urged to share NRMLA’s consumer booklet, Recognize & Report Elder Financial Abuse, with clients and their family members.