WASHINGTON (10/20/11)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday announced former Minnesota Attorney General and Minnesota State Senator Hubert “Skip” Humphrey as the leader of the agency’s Office of Older Americans.
The CFPB’s Office of Older Americans has been tasked with helping seniors avoid fraud related to financial counseling, as well as with educating seniors about their choices for long-term savings, retirement planning, and long-term care programs. The CFPB division will also work with senior groups, law enforcement, financial institutions, and other federal and state agencies to identify and prevent scams targeting seniors. Humphrey said he is “honored and excited to bring [his] experience in consumer protection and [his] work with seniors to the CFPB to help educate seniors about fair practices and how to make financial decisions that are right for them.” “A well-informed consumer is the best protection against fraud and deceptive practices – especially if that knowledge is backed up by tough regulatory enforcement,” he added. Humphrey, a graduate of American University and the University of Minnesota Law School, has also served as former State President and national board member of the AARP. Humphrey is the son of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and former U.S. Senator Muriel Humphrey. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he was “especially pleased to note the addition of another former attorney general to the top ranks of the agency because attorneys general have been at the forefront of consumer protection.” The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) earlier this year noted a sharp increase in the number of financial institutions that filed Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) on elder financial abuse. FinCEN has warned that erratic or unusual banking transactions, such as frequent large withdrawals, sudden Non-Sufficient Fund activity, uncharacteristic nonpayment for services, inconsistent debit transactions, and the closing of certificate or other accounts without regard to penalties can all be warning signs of elder financial abuse. Financial institutions should also look out for instances in which an elderly member or customer lacks knowledge about his or her financial status, or shows a sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters. Elderly victims of financial abuse may also fear eviction or nursing home placement if money is not given to a caretaker, FinCEN warned. Credit unions and other financial institutions often can play a key role in uncovering instances of financial exploitation of the elderly, and the Maine Credit Union League and the Northwest Credit Union Association are examples of leagues that have supported elderly financial abuse prevention legislation in their respective states. The U.S. Treasury has also promoted its GoDirect federal benefit direct deposit program as one way that older Americans can avoid financial fraud. The Credit Union National Association is a GoDirect partner.