Skip Humphrey, the head of the Office for Older Americans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, described his approach to fighting growing abuses against senior citizens in his Nov. 15 testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection.
“The CFPB will fulfill this mandate by monitoring certifications and designations and alerting federal and state regulators about those that are unfair, deceptive, or abusive.” said Humphrey in his testimony. “In addition, the Office will submit to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission legislative and regulatory recommendations on best practices for disseminating relevant information and enabling seniors to identify those advisors that best meet their needs and to verify a financial advisor’s credentials.” This statement lays out the most explicit statement of the future actual activities of the Office for Older Americans.
“The best defense against deceptive practices and elder financial abuse and exploitation is not only tough enforcement, but also effective prevention through good education and training,” said Humphrey. The Bureau will use its research to engage seniors about their financial choices in the area of long-term savings, retirement planning, and long-term care.
“To this end, the Office for Older Americans will work with the other divisions within the CFPB to conduct research and identify best practices and effective methods and tools to educate and counsel seniors,” he said. “This is a common approach we take at the CFPB – because research and market analytics is an important component to what we do.”
“According to a study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, Americans over the age of 65 lost more than $2.9 billion to financial abuse and exploitation in 2010, a 12 percent increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008,” said Humphrey, acknowledging these abuses with the title some have given, “the Crime of the 21st Century.”