CFPB urges financial institutions to report elder fraud cases

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is recommending that banks report suspected financial crimes against the elderly to local, state and federal authorities.

On Wednesday, the CFPB updated a 2016 advisory by recommending that financial institutions file suspicious activity reports on elder fraud to law enforcement agencies.

The CFPB reiterated that elder fraud is “widespread and damaging,” with an average loss of $41,800 among victims over the age of 70.

“The Bureau is renewing its efforts to alert banks and credit unions to elder financial exploitation as they are uniquely positioned to detect that an older account holder has been targeted or victimized, and to take action,” CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger said in a press release. “The Bureau stands ready to work with federal, state and local authorities and financial institutions to protect older adults from abusive financial practices that rob them of their financial security.”

A 2019 study found that just 28% of SARs related to financial abuse of the elderly also indicated that the activity was reported to law enforcement or other authorities.

While financial institutions are filing an increasing number of SARs identifying elder abuse, in most cases the reports do not indicate that the financial institutions are reporting directly to law enforcement, the bureau said.

“More reporting to the relevant law enforcement agencies can increase investigation and prosecution,” the CFPB said.

The bureau's study listed relevant laws on the 26 states and the District of Columbia that mandate reporting of elder financial exploitation.

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