elderly-financial-abuseBack in February, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her Senior Financial Empowerment Act proposal. If it passes, this bill would not only regulate financial abuse reporting, but it would also make funding available for both education and fraud protection amongst senior citizens. The creation of this bill was inspired by the massive shift our economy is experiencing due to the retirement of many in the baby-boomer generation. Additionally, the baby-boomer generation seems to be a major target to the financial exploitations caused by criminals and scammers. For this reason, it’s essential to have a form of protection in place–like the bill created by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand–for senior citizens to rely on.

Baby Boomers Are Reaching Retirement Age

For decades, experts believed that a major population shift would occur as the baby-boomer generation began to retire. This predicted shift would result in record numbers of the elderly in America. Currently, we are seeing this prediction come true as record levels of the elderly population have been reached. According to the US Census Bureau, approximately one in five Americans will be 65 or older by the time we reach 2030. Additionally, the American Bankers Association (ABA) reported that about a third of the population is made up of senior citizens over the age of 50. As much of our population consists of the baby-boomer generation, they also contribute significantly to our country’s financial wealth. The American Bankers Association also stated that this generation held more than 70% of deposits in a variety of banking institutions (source).

Although their contributions to this society have been significant, many senior citizens are living on a fixed-income or regimented retirement savings. Unfortunately, for these reasons and more, this generation of senior citizens is a major target to financial fraud.  

Seniors Targeted For Fraud

According to the American Bankers Association, senior citizens in our society lose approximately $3 billion a year to a variety of financial scams. This is an epidemic in its own that needs a quick solution. Luckily more and more banks are keeping their eyes open for any suspicious activity that looks like it could be derived from fraud. Luckily, our society is taking action and devising plans that could help to reduce the amount of fraudulent activity that occurs to senior citizens. Just last week, the American Bankers Association announced a new initiative to help bankers detect and take a larger role in protecting their customers. To do so, the ABA sent out a list of ‘red flags’ that bankers should be aware of. These ‘red flags’ include:

  • Opening lines of credits without purpose.
  • Making quick transfers of large sums in and out of different accounts.
  • Writing out checks as ‘cash’ or for very vague purposes.
  • The inability to pay their routine bills.
  • Uncertainty when withdrawing money.

In addition to this list, the ABA also created a publication called, “Protecting Seniors: A Banking Resource Guide for Partnering with Law Enforcement and Adult Protective Services.” This guide was also put together with the help of the National Sheriffs’ Association, National Adult Protective Services Association, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This publication is an excellent read for both senior citizens and those who work within banking institutions.

Keeping our senior citizens safe from fraud is a major issue in the US, and one that we are finally starting to make progress in preventing.