The number of reports of financial fraud against older adults has quadrupled since 2013, with 63,500 filed reports describing more than $1.7 billion in actual losses or attempted thefts in 2017, according to a report released Wednesday by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The report’s statistics are based on suspicious activity reports filed with the federal government by banks, credit unions, casinos and other financial services providers. These reports, however, “likely represent a tiny fraction of elderly financial exploitation,” the CFPB said.

The findings, the bureau said, point to “the need for strong and diverse interventions by financial institutions, law enforcement, and social services, as well as the involvement of policymakers.”

Key findings of the report:

  • The average loss in 2017 was $34,200, although 7% of victims lost more than $100,000 each.
  • One-third of those who lost money were aged 80 or more years, losing an average of $39,200.
  • 52% of the reports involved money transfers, with an average loss of $32,800.
  • 44% of the reports involved checking or savings accounts, the type of financial product with the highest average monetary loss: $48,300.
  • Losses were greater when the older adult knew the suspect, averaging $50,000 compared with $17,000 when the victim did not know the alleged perpetrator.
  • In more than two-thirds of cases, financial institutions do not appear to be reporting elder financial exploitation to law enforcement or adult protective services, according to the report. “This is a missed opportunity to increase investigation and prosecution, and to make it more likely that victims will receive appropriate services,” wrote the authors.

Adapted from McKnight’s Senior Living, February, 2019

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog identifying common consumer scams and resources to avoid exploitation.