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CFPB cites role of OBA, banks in helping to prevent elder fraud

A report released last week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau noted your Oklahoma Bankers Association has helped lead the way in a collaborative effort to prevent elder fraud. In doing so, the report also recognized the important role banks play in protecting seniors from financial fraud.  

The OBA's Elaine Dodd has pioneered the development of coordinated local efforts to prevent, detect and respond to elder financial abuse. One such local group – the Metro Area Fraud Investigators Association or MAFIA – is very active here in Oklahoma City and other areas of the state.

According to the report, the most common form of elder abuse is financial exploitation. It also noted only a small fraction of these kinds of incidents are reported. Estimated losses from elder financial abuse range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion each year.

As the U.S. population ages, the costs of financial crimes against older adults are likely to grow. By 2050, the population age 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double the estimated 43.1 million in 2012.

“The widespread prevalence of elder financial exploitation destroys the financial security of millions of older Americans annually,” the report said.  “In response to this crisis, hundreds of communities across the United States have created collaborative networks to protect their older residents.”

The report includes the Bureau's recommendations to those currently participating in these efforts as well as to other key stakeholders to develop and enhance their community's collaborative efforts in an effort to fight financial exploitation.  A few of the Bureau's key findings are:

  • Networks increase coordination and improve collaboration among responders, service providers and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Networks improve the prevention, detection, reporting of and response to elder financial exploitation;
  • Although hundreds of communities have developed networks, only 25 percent of all counties in the United States currently have a network addressing elder abuse issues and only 6 percent of known networks specialize in preventing and responding to financial exploitation;
  • Networks primarily follow the Triad and multi-disciplinary team models of collaboration:
    • Triads often bring together seniors and law enforcement to increase community education about safety and crime;  
    • Multidisciplinary teams bring together professionals from different fields to review cases of elder abuse including financial exploitation;
  • The most common ways of fighting financial exploitation are through community education, professional training and case review;
  • Existing networks are often the catalyst for new networks; and
  • Effective networks seek opportunities for replication and ensuring statewide coverage, which has been the case in Oklahoma.

Some of the key recommendations contained in the report are as follows:

  • Professionals working with or serving older adults should create networks in communities where they do not currently exist, especially in communities with a large number of older people;
  • Elder abuse networks that do not focus on financial exploitation should develop activities and the capacity to respond to elder financial exploitation by seeking to include as network members professionals with financial expertise, such as forensic accountants;
  • Networks should implement educational programs for older adults, caregivers and professionals on how to prevent, detect and respond to financial exploitation.
  • Elder financial exploitation networks should seek to include financial institutions, large and small, as network members; similarly, financial institutions should seek to join and participate in local networks; and
  • Networks should expand coverage into rural areas by creating regional networks so resources can be shared and increase the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing in lieu of travel when necessary.

You can read the entire report by clicking here.

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