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Financial Institutions Report Widespread Elder Financial Abuse

Federal law requires financial institutions report suspicious activity that might indicate money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities to the federal government.

Now, a first of its kind analysis can help the field better understand elder fraud and opportunities to improve prevention and response.

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection recently released a report on these suspicious activity reports—or SARs—filed by banks, credit unions, casinos, and other financial services providers from 2013–2017. The bureau analyzed elder financial exploitation SARs filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and found suspicious activities involving more than $6 billion over this time period.

They also found that SAR filings on elder financial exploitation quadrupled from 2013 to 2017. The increasing number of filings may be due to a number of factors, including the growing number of older adults, a possible increase in the incidence of elder exploitation, and the addition of elder financial exploitation as a category on the SAR form.

Fewer than one-third of elder financial exploitation SARs specify that the financial institution reported the activity to adult protective services, law enforcement, or other authorities. This finding highlights a missed opportunity to strengthen prevention and response.

If financial institutions increase reporting, it is more likely that victims will receive appropriate services.

Read Suspicious Activity Reports on Elder Financial Exploitation: Issues and Trends to learn more.

Date Published: March 12, 2019