Several federal agencies seem to think it would be all right, under certain circumstances. Namely, reporting elder financial fraud. Among the agencies are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration.
According to an article published in Reverse Mortgage Daily, these companies are also working together in an effort to clarify privacy concerns for institutions under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which established how and when an institution is allowed to disclose non-public personal information to third parties not affiliated with the institution.
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said:
“Unfortunately, we have seen that older Americans are all too often the victims of financial exploitation. They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth—whether it is in retirement savings or home equity.”
This is an important first step in protecting older generations, 50 million of which live in the United States, excluding the aging baby boomer generation.
Reverse mortgages are included in the types of fraud the CFPB has received, how many, though, has not yet been disclosed. Among the types of complaints are instances of forged power of attorney or taking out a reverse mortgage in the name of a relative that no longer lives in the primary residence reported on the loan.
In the past, federal institution would have had to sought out consumer permission before sharing personal information with authorities. The new guidance allows institutions to reported suspected fraudulent activity without the consent of consumers.
CFPB Director Cordray stated:
“Today’s guidance makes clear that reporting suspected elder financial abuse generally is not subject to these same concerns and does not violate the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.”
I don’t believe an institution should have the right to disclose any client’s private information for any old reason but there is an important distinction to be made when it comes to older Americans. In a sense, it’s the same as young children. Most of the time, seniors who have been taken advantage of have no idea what is happening, especially if they have no one to fight for them.
Most importantly, this is a preventative measure for seniors who are the victim of fraudulent activity involving their own family members. While it’s sad to see that, in some instances, even their family is responsible for their financial troubles, there needs to be a safeguard in place for institutions who suspect this is going on but have no way of reporting it without incurring legal troubles.
If there is no illegal activity going on, this will be revealed during the ongoing investigation and if there is, then that would be revealed as well.
We have a civil responsibility to take care of our elders, these financial agencies are just arming us with the tools to do so. Sometimes they are too embarrassed or simply too frail to report what has happened to them; sometimes they are not even aware anything happened to them, which is why there needs to be measures to ensure they aren’t exploited, by anyone.
Being a good Samaritan should not be a punishable deed. Hopefully this makes people who engage in this activity think twice about what their doing.