ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/25/13)--National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz in a letter to credit unions (13-CU-08) strongly encouraged them to ensure their staff members are "trained on the potential signs that might trigger a report of elder abuse or financial exploitation."
"Elder abuse involves the illegal or improper use of an older adult's funds, property or assets. Older adults can become targets of financial exploitation by family members, caregivers, financial advisors, home repair contractors, and scam artists. If you or your staff know the older adults in your membership, you may be able to spot irregular behavior or account activity," Matz wrote.
She also urged credit unions to review their own policies and procedures "to ensure they are consistent with state law and the interagency guidance regarding reporting requirements when a financial institution suspects elder abuse or financial exploitation."
The letter follows Tuesday's release of joint federal financial regulatory guidance which clarifies that financial institutions may report suspected elder financial abuse to appropriate authorities.
This reporting authority is provided under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the agencies said in a release. The NCUA and others emphasized that financial institution employees can report suspected irregular transactions, account activity, or other behavior that signals financial abuse. Suspected elder financial abuse may be reported to local, state or federal agencies, they said.
"Older adults can be attractive targets for financial exploitation and may be taken advantage of by scam artists, financial advisers, family members, caregivers, or home repair contractors," and recent studies have shown that a small number of financial abuse acts are in fact reported, the agencies noted.
The Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission joined the NCUA in issuing guidance.
The NCUA on Tuesday also released new financial literacy resources page on their website.
For the letter to credit unions, the joint agency guidance, and the NCUA financial literacy resources, use the resource links.