Threat of the Week: The Elder Fraud Epidemic
It happens without a gun, and often even without a computer mouse, but nowadays one of the fastest growing types of fraud is elder financial abuse, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tabs as a $2.9 billion annual problem, and it is one that may only get bigger as the 40+ million group of elderly Americans daily grows in number.
The good news for credit unions: many of them now are taking a significant role in helping safeguard their elderly members’ accounts. A belief in many quarters is that financial institutions are ideally positioned to notice elder fraud early – and that may lead to stopping it earlier.
In North Carolina, for instance, Lauren Whaley, director of legislative and regulatory Affairs at the North Carolina Credit Union League, said draft legislation is in the legislature and, she added, “it will pass. Our members very much want this to pass.”
A reason legislation is necessary: “Banks are terrified of getting involved. They are so afraid of being sued,” said Carl G. Archer, an attorney in Hamilton, N.J. That same hesitancy would apply to credit unions but legislation that mandates staying alert to possible elder fraud appears to remove much of the fear.