New Office of Older Americans Part of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Molly Schlanker, 4/17/2012

Hubert Humphrey III Leads New Office of Older Americans

Seniors are a target for exploitation, unfortunately, as their circumstances can easily fit the requirements for someone easy to exploit (especially if they are lonely, have extra time on their hands and are experiencing memory loss).  Now, the U.S. government is stepping in to protect the elderly with more safeguards and services.

A new consumer advocate has been appointed through the creation of the new Office of Older Americans, as part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s office.  Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey III will lead the new office.  The goal of the new office will be to safeguard the rights of Americans age 62 and older and educate them about their financial options.

The mission will be to enforce laws that protect consumers and monitor financial markets for new risks.  In 2007, many seniors saw their nest eggs shrink just as they were approaching retirement and some fell victim to the exploitation at the hands of trusted financial advisers.

Older Americans lost nearly $3 billion to financial exploitation in just the year 2010, according to a study by MetLife insurance company. Created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Humphrey’s office will educate older Americans about their financial options and go after fraudsters.

“I intend to make it the Office of Older, Smarter Americans,” Humphrey said.

More than 5 percent of Americans 60 or older are financially abused by a family member, according to 2009 research by the federal Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice.

Humphrey has served on AARP’s national board of directors and his new office will go after sophisticated swindlers who target seniors.

“You need to be able to send a sign….to these rascals committing the crimes,” Humphrey said. “When we catch you, there are going to be severe consequences.”

The goals of the Office of Older Americans under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s office will be to focus on:

1) Elder Abuse:  spotting and preventing financial exploitation

2) Credit and Debt:  better regulations of debt collectors and credit reporting agencies

3) Investment Fraud:  identify false and deceptive claims

4) Reverse Mortgages:  focusing on making reverse mortgages easy to understand and a new toll-free hotline to assist seniors who are having difficulty paying their mortgages:  1-855-411-2372

5) Overdrafts:  investigating if banks are fair in their charging of overdraft fees

6) Investigations and Enforcement:  offering a website to take complaints about mortgage and credit card companies in order to probe suspected wrongdoing and enforce consumer protection laws.

Seniors should be especially mindful of family members who may misuse their funds.  One spending spree can lead to another and another, eventually leaving a senior without any savings.

Senior home care agencies are licensed companies providing professional senior home caregiving services and one way to protect seniors, caregivers and family members by having a professional care plan and payroll taxes, insurances included.  A professional care manager also manages the caregiver and the care, which insures quality care service and a daily plan of action.

Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Financial Protection for Older American’s website to learn more.


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