Older adults can be tempting targets for bad actors in the financial marketplace.
Mortgages, debt collection and credit reports account for the bulk of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from consumers age 62 and older, according to a new analysis from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The advocates analyzed more than 72,000 complaints from seniors in the government watchdog's database.
(See charts below for some of the top-reported problems.)
"It shows that older Americans do indeed face unique threats in the marketplace and the CFPB is protecting them," said Mike Litt, consumer advocate at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Cognitive decline and health problems can incite predatory behavior, Litt said. But even 1 in 18 "cognitively intact" older adults is victim to financial scams, fraud or abuse in a given year, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health.
Older consumers having difficulty with a financial product have several groups that can help them get recourse, said Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resilience programming for AARP.
"The best resource out there is actually the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau themselves," she said.
That's because the CFPB actually works to get company responses for complaints people submit, Weinstock said.
Your local Agency on Aging may also have resources to make a complaint or get help with financial matters, she said. There's also AARP's Fraud Watch Network, which maps user-submitted fraud warnings and lists local law enforcement scam alerts.