Saying that older Americans have been scammed out of billions of dollars, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday launched an inquiry into financial abuse of the elderly.
"The silent crime of financially exploiting the elderly is widespread and it is devastating. It is critical for us to act," Richard Cordray, the agency's director, said at a White House forum Thursday marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. "The generation that rebuilt and sustained this nation out of a devastating Depression, the dark hours of World War II, and the anxious fears of the Cold War deserve our care now in their turn."
Cordray cited a recent study that said Americans 60 years of age or older lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation in 2010, up 12% from 2008.
As part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that created the agency, Congress instructed it to specifically focus on protecting senior citizens. In October, former Minnesota Atty. Gen. Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III was appointed to head the agency's Office of Older Americans.
In 2010, Consumers Union said that older Americans were particularly vulnerable to being misled on reverse mortgages and called for more government oversight.
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Consumer Bureau Launches Inquiry Into Financial Abuse of the Elderly