Elder Abuse on the Rise

When it comes to hot issues in the BSA world, we find it’s sometimes hard to get bankers to fully buy-in.  They might receive training on topics like human trafficking, marijuana business, etc., but in the back of their mind they’re thinking, “I’m never going to run into that at my bank”.  Or, “That’s a big bank problem”.  While we would beg to differ, we can see how it’s easy to fall into that line of thinking.


One issue that is on the rise is Elder Financial Exploitation (EFE).  It’s pretty safe to say that EVERY bank has elderly customers so it’s definitely not something you want to overlook. Back in February, the CFPB released a report, Suspicious Activity Reports on Elder Financial Exploitation: Issues and Trends.  It included key facts, trends, and patterns revealed in EFE SARs filed by banks, credit unions, casinos, and other financial services providers.

Here are a few statistics:


  • SAR filings on elder financial exploitation have more than quadrupled (400%) from 2013 to 2017 while other SAR filings have only increased 40% during that same timeframe.


  • The analysis recognized four common activities: Romance scams (looking for love), exploitation by a family member, theft by caregiver and money mules (person-in-need scam).


  • On average, the reported suspicious activity took place over a four-month period. The suspicious activity lasted longer when the suspect was a family member, the targeted person had diminished capacity, the targeted person was 80 years and older and when a joint account was involved.


  • Sadly, in less than 1/3 of the EFE SARs, the activity was also reported to Adult Protective Services (APS), Law Enforcement, or other authorities.


We recommend you utilize these findings to develop training to increase awareness and strengthen efforts to protect older adults from financial exploitation.


For example, losses could be limited or AdobeStock 57234526 1 300x199prevented or by improving fraud detection technology to reflect transaction patterns most prevalent when older account holders become victims.  The use of alerts on checking and savings accounts or by offering services that help trusted relatives and friends detect elder financial exploitation could also be beneficial.


Elder financial exploitation is one of those crimes that really tugs at your heartstrings.  It’s hard to imagine that this type of crime could happen to your loved ones.


You are in a unique position to help combat this horrible crime so make sure you do your part!




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