CFPB Official: Elder Financial Abuse 'Crime of the 21st Century'

November 16, 2011
American Banker  
consumer financial protection bureau news

Elder financial abuse and exploitation is a significant and growing financial problem facing the America's senior citizens, a prominent official from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told a Senate panel on Nov. 15. Hubert "Skip" Humphrey III, director of the bureau's Office for Older Americans, said the agency intends to partner with law enforcement and senior advocates to build awareness of elder abuse; address the underreporting of fraudulent or abusive practices aimed at this demographic; and coordinate more training on the matter for law enforcement and financial institutions. "It's been called a hidden epidemic or the Crime of the 21st Century, and it's a growing and serious problem that we need to address," Humphrey said. AARP Foundation Litigation senior attorney Julie Nepveu said more older Americans are reporting problems involving payday loans, debt collection, overdraft fees, and mortgage modifications. The CFPB's reach is limited, however, until permanent leadership is in place. "Too many seniors are struggling to meet the unfair terms of unscrupulous lenders looking to take advantage of their vulnerable state," explained Sen. Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. "Unfortunately, many of these activities are perpetrated by non-banks, and the CFPB does not have authority over these lenders until a full-time director is confirmed."
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