The number of reports of financial fraud against older adults has quadrupled since 2013, with 63,500 filed reports describing more than $1.7 billion in actual losses or attempted thefts in 2017, according to a report released Wednesday by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The report’s statistics are based on suspicious activity reports filed with the federal government by banks, credit unions, casinos and other financial services providers. These reports, however, “likely represent a tiny fraction of elderly financial exploitation,” the CFPB said.
The findings, the bureau said, point to “the need for strong and diverse interventions by financial institutions, law enforcement, and social services, as well as the involvement of policymakers.”
Key findings of the report:
- The average loss in 2017 was $34,200, although 7% of victims lost more than $100,000 each.
- One-third of those who lost money were aged 80 or more years, losing an average of $39,200.
- 52% of the reports involved money transfers, with an average loss of $32,800.
- 44% of the reports involved checking or savings accounts, the type of financial product with the highest average monetary loss: $48,300.
- Losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect, averaging $50,000 compared with $17,000 when the victim did not know the alleged perpetrator.
- In more than two-thirds of cases, financial institutions do not appear to be reporting elder financial exploitation to law enforcement or adult protective services, according to the report. “This is a missed opportunity to increase investigation and prosecution, and to make it more likely that victims will receive appropriate services,” the authors wrote.
The CFPB has published “Protecting residents from financial exploitation: A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities” as well as financial education placemats and other materials to educate professional caregivers, older adults and their families about financial issues; see the links in the left column of the placemat page and other information on the CFPB website.
Suspected elder financial abuse may be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP and to the Senate Special Committee on Aging at 855-303-9470 or www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.