Former Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. (“Skip”) Humphrey III has been named to lead the Bureau’s Office of Older Americans. In addition to serving four terms as the Minnesota AG, Humphrey, the son of the former U.S. Vice President, has previously served as Minnesota state senator, president of AARP Minnesota and a member of the AARP national board.
The Office of Older Americans is charged with helping seniors aged 62 or older improve their financial decision making, and with preventing unfair, deceptive and abusive practices targeted at that group. This office is yet another team at the Bureau aimed at protecting vulnerable segments of the population such as students and service members. The new office will begin operation at a time when seniors are experiencing deepening financial problems, being hurt badly in the recent recession and experiencing a depreciation in their savings, possible foreclosure and financial abuse (seniors are losing an estimated three billion dollars annually to such abuse).
The Bureau has indicated that the various tasks of the Office of Older Americans will include educating seniors about financial choices in the areas of long-term savings, retirement planning and long-term care. It will also provide coordination between senior groups, law enforcement, financial institutions, and federal and state agencies to identify and prevent scams. Mr. Humphrey stated that “A well-informed consumer is the best protection against fraud and deceptive practices – especially if that knowledge is backed up by tough regulatory enforcement.”
Noting that the lack of a confirmed Bureau director may initially hinder certain of his office’s activities, Mr. Humphrey believes there is much work his office can begin right now. Chief among these is listening to and learning from seniors, in order to learn and understand the problems they are facing. Mr. Humphrey stated that “We’re going to bring their concerns back to the consumer bureau to inform our work and develop effective programs to serve these problems.”
The Bureau has introduced the Office of Older Americans on its website (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/olderamericans/) and has listed the problems seniors may be facing and what the Office is planning to do to help them with these issues. In addition, the Bureau website offers assistance to seniors on avoiding scams, elder financial abuse, housing, long-term care, protecting investments, retirement, support on financial decision-making and legal issues, end-of-life issues, and taking care of loved ones. The Bureau refers seniors to its hotline and to additional resources for assistance with these matters.