Elder financial abuse can be stemmed by network of community resources-including credit unions-according to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
“Hundreds of counties have developed a community-based approach to protect their seniors and retirees from financial exploitation,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We’ve learned that an ‘all hands on deck’ strategy can be very effective to fight elder financial fraud.”
The networks often consist of seniors, caregivers, first responders, financial services providers and the general public. CFPB and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. developed the Money Smart for Older Adults (MSOA) educational curriculum for networks to use.
CFPB’s report noted the collaboration between State Employees’ CU (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., and North Carolina’s State Department of Health and Human Services to implement a train-the-trainer MSOA initiative statewide. In 2014 and 2015, SECU provided training in seven regions to nearly 400 local professionals, including representatives from the 100 county social services departments, local Area Agency on Aging staff, and the North Carolina Retired Government Employee Association.
In 2014, SECU also partnered with Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit legal aid service, for referral protocol training and elder law resources.
The Illinois Credit Union League and credit unions also are stakeholders in the Illinois Financial Abuse Specialist Team, which also uses MSOA to help educate and protect elderly consumers.
CUNA also supports and has been advocating for passage of legislation that could help protect seniors who may be targeted for financial abuse, included in the Senior$afe Act of 2016 (H.R. 4538), which passed the House in July, and has a companion version in the Senate.
The legislation protects credit union employees, who have been trained to identify and report financial exploitation, from being held liable for disclosing such exploitation, if such individual made the disclosure in good faith and with reasonable care.
It also prevents credit unions themselves from being held liable for such disclosures, if their employees were properly trained and were working at the credit union at the time of the disclosure. These protections will allow credit unions to come to the aid of vulnerable seniors immediately upon noticing potential abuse.