Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Financial Exploitation
Financial abuse is one of the most reported types of abuse and is often directed at vulnerable adults. One in 10 Americans aged 60-plus has experienced elder abuse—and one of the most frequent forms of elder abuse is financial.
Elder financial abuse is defined as someone illegally or improperly using an elder’s (aged 60 or older) money or belongings for their own personal use.
Seniors are the victims of financial exploitation every year, and they pay a hefty price. The National Council on Aging estimates seniors lose over $36.5 billion each year as a result of financial exploitation. And it can be more difficult to detect than physical abuse and neglect because it’s often done by family members, trusted friends, and caregivers.
Reporting Elder Financial Exploitation
Tennessee is a mandatory reporting state. Any person with knowledge of suspected abuse should report it to Adult Protective Services:
Call 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366)
Online at https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/
If in immediate physical danger, dial 911
Credit unions should report suspected elder financial exploitation to all appropriate federal, state, and local authorities. This includes the requirement to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) with FinCEN when it meets the criteria for filing a SAR or the information is beneficial to law enforcement. When completing the SAR it should include a detailed explanation of any suspected financial abuse activity. Include the term “elder financial exploitation” and the victim’s information in the narrative portion. Do not report the victim as the subject of the SAR. For more information, visit FinCEN.
Federal and State Guidance
- TN Elder and Vulnerable Adult Financial Exploitation Prevent Act – this state-specific Act gives financial institutions tools and greater flexibility to help protect their members who are elderly or vulnerable where the institutions suspect elder abuse or financial exploitation.
- 2011 FinCEN Advisory on Filing Suspicious Activity Reports Regarding Elder Financial Exploitation – shares guidance to help credit unions identify and report suspected elder financial exploitation.
- 2013 Interagency Guidance on Privacy Laws and Reporting Financial Abuse of Older Adults – clarifies that reporting suspected financial abuse of older adults to appropriate authorities is permitted under the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
- 2016 CFPB Recommendations and Report on Preventing and Responding to Elder Financial Exploitation – offers credit unions recommendations on how to train management and staff to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial exploitation.
- 2018 Senior Safe Act – incorporated as part of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the Senior Safe Act provides a safe harbor for credit unions that report suspected EFE to law enforcement and adult protective services, under certain conditions.
Resources and Training
Tennessee Credit Union League white paper on Elder Financial Exploitation [PDF file]
Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions (state regulatory agency)
Tennessee Commission on Aging – 2022 Elder Abuse Task Force Report
AARP free BankSafe Elder Financial Exploitation training program for financial institutions
InfoSight compliance overview of Elder and Vulnerable Adult Protections (requires login)