The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., have released an enhanced version of their financial education curriculum, “Money Smart for Older Adults”.
The enhanced version includes a new section to help people avoid “romance scams” and an updated resource guide. The enhancements to the program, originally released in 2001, are based on stakeholder feedback and recent research conducted by the FDIC and CFPB for the effort.
Additionally, the agencies released a newly created informational brochure on COVID-19-related scams.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, reported romance scam losses in 2020 reached a record $304 million, up about 50 percent from 2019. People ages 40 to 69 are the most likely to report losing money to romance scams. The median individual loss from a romance scam for people 70 and over was $9,475, compared to $2,500 across all age groups, and older targets are more likely to lose more in such scams, according to the FTC.
Overall, annual elder financial abuse costs range from $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion, according to the National Council on Aging. Precise numbers are difficult to obtain because only about 1 out of 24 cases are ever reported. In the United States, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, according to the Office for Victims of Crime.
“For far too many, the sacred promise of aging with dignity in America is broken by unconscionable incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation,” said President Joe Biden in a proclamation marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. “I call upon all Americans to work for elder justice by building inclusive communities that welcome people of all ages and abilities; by learning the warning signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and by challenging age-related biases.”