Last week, the National Credit Union Administration reminded federally insured credit unions they can and should alert authorities if they suspect an older member is the victim of financial abuse or exploitation without violating the member’s privacy.
In a Letter to Credit Unions, NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz strongly encourages credit union directors and CEOs to make sure staff members are trained to spot cases in which older members are victims of financial abuse or exploitation. Credit unions should also be sure there are policies and procedures in place to allow reporting of these cases in accordance with the law.
"Research suggests financial exploitation is the most common form of elderly abuse,” Matz said. "Older adults can become targets of financial exploitation by scam artists, shady contractors, dishonest financial advisors or even ‘trusted’ friends or family members. Credit unions have a role to play in protecting their members, and we want to make sure they understand they can alert authorities about potential abuse without violating privacy laws.”
NCUA first addressed this issue in 2007, when the agency made clear that federal law, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, did not preempt provisions of Hawaii’s state law requiring financial institutions to report suspected abuse.
NCUA joined with seven other federal financial regulators to issue guidance to help financial institutions report suspected financial abuse or exploitation of seniors, which includes warning signs of possible abuse evidenced by the behavior of an older member or others who may be perpetrators.
The Letter to Credit Unions includes a link to that guidance, as well as links to online resources for identifying, preventing and responding to cases of abuse, including the agency’s financial literacy microsite Pocket Cents.