Hubert “Skip” Humphrey III, the new chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s office for senior citizens, testified to a nearly empty Senate committee room this month about this plans to protect seniors, including cracking down on deceptive financial planners and helping older women, many of whom outlive both their husbands and their savings.
Save for two Democratic Senators, the hearing was mostly empty because the Senate panel’s Republicans, who have opposed the bureau and are blocking the appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the CFPB, did not attend.
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“Older Americans have been hit hard by the economic crisis,” Humphrey said. “Many of those in the 62-plus population are not financially prepared for retirement, and financial exploitation of older Americans is growing.”
Without a director in place, the bureau has no power to enact new rules that would protect seniors. Instead, Humphrey said he plans to focus on collaborating with nonprofit groups and other government agencies to find the best ways to educate seniors about financial literacy.
The office also has limited authority to police deceptive financial advisors who target seniors, but Humphrey said his office will monitor the industry for advisors working under false certifications, and report any unfair or deceptive practices to federal and state law enforcement agencies.
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“Though I have been on the job less than one month, I have already seen the critical need for an office tasked with looking out for and educating older Americans in their financial decisions,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey, the former attorney general of Minnesota, is the son of former vice president Hubert Humphrey. His testimony was heard by just two Senators, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Brown asked how not having a bureau director in place limits the authority of Humphrey’s Office for Older Americans.
“Obviously, having a director will help us have supervision in the non-bank area, in order to take on deception and scams,” Humphrey said.