CFPB highlights debt collection in military,
elder financial abuse

March 23, 2016 -- Military servicemembers have been submitting debt collection complaints at nearly twice the rate of non-military consumers, and 17 percent of elder consumers have said that they have been the victim of financial exploitation, according to two recent reports issued by the CFPB.

In its March 22 annual report from the bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs, complaints submitted in 2015 and CFPB enforcement actions that directly impacted the military community are highlighted.  The report noted that servicemembers have been submitting debt collection complaints to the Bureau at nearly twice the rate of non-military consumers who submit complaints, and that roughly 44 percent of the debt collection complaints submitted by servicemembers involved companies’ attempts to collect debt that the servicemember believes is not owed.

Additionally, the report states, servicemembers often complained that debt collectors would contact their commanding officers and threaten their security clearance over a debt issue. A frequent complaint from veterans had to do with debt collectors attempting to collect debts on medical bills that should have been covered through their VA health insurance

In the March 23 report on elder financial abuse (which was accompanied by an advisory), the bureau noted that – although nearly one in five elder consumers report financial exploitation -- few cases ever come to the attention of protective services, perhaps out of embarrassment or physical frailty by elder consumers to make a report.

The report includes recommendations for banks and credit unions on how to prevent, recognize, report, and respond to financial exploitation of older Americans. “The great majority of older adults have checking or savings accounts and many rely on tellers as their primary form of banking,” a release from the bureau about the report stated. “Financial institutions are also uniquely suited to detect and act when an elder account holder has been targeted or victimized, and are mandated to report suspected elder financial exploitation under many states’ laws.”


LINKS:
Servicemembers 2015: A year in review
Recommendations, report for financial institutions on preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation
Advisory for financial institutions on preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation