With elder financial abuse on rise, financial crime unit seeks help from banks, credit unions in battling

Illlegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, and assets — often perpetrated either through theft or scams — is on the rise, the Treasury’s financial law enforcement arm said Wednesday, as it issued an advisory urging bank to aid in combatting the threat.

In a release, the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said its advisory highlights new elder financial exploitation (EFE) typologies and red flags that have emerged since the agency issued its first advisory on the subject 11 years ago.

FinCEN said that last year, banks, credit unions and other financial institutions filed 72,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) related to EFE, an increase of 10,000 of the reports from the previous year. The agency also noted that the dollar value of suspicious EFE transactions has jumped. Using Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) figures, FinCEN said suspicious transactions jumped from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $3.4 billion in 2020. That’s the largest increase in since 2013, according to FinCEN.

“FinCEN’s EFE advisory highlights behavioral and financial red flags to aid financial institutions with identifying, preventing, and reporting suspected EFE,” the agency said. “In line with the risk-based approach to compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions should perform additional due diligence where appropriate and remain alert to any suspicious activity that could indicate that their customers are perpetrators, facilitators, or victims of EFE.”

In addition to filing a SAR, FinCEN said it recommends that banks and credit unions  refer their older customers who may be victims of EFE to the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 or 833-372-8311 for assistance with reporting suspected fraud to the appropriate government agencies

FinCEN Issues Advisory on Elder Financial Exploitation