ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Sept. 24, 2013) – The National Credit Union Administration today reminded federally insured credit unions they can 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 today 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.
The letter also has links to online resources for identifying, preventing and responding to cases of abuse, including the agency’s Pocket Cents financial literacy microwebsite.
The Letter to Credit Unions is available on NCUA’s website here
NCUA is the independent federal agency created by
the U.S. Congress to regulate, charter and supervise
federal credit unions. With the backing of the full
faith and credit of the United States, NCUA operates
and manages the National Credit Union Share
Insurance Fund, insuring the deposits of more than
98 million account holders in all federal credit
unions and the overwhelming majority of
state-chartered credit unions. At
Pocket Cents, NCUA also educates the public on consumer protection and financial literacy issues.