By Carter Dougherty

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today announced it is seeking public comments as part of an inquiry into financial exploitation of senior citizens.

“Older Americans have lost billions of dollars to the silent crime of financial exploitation,” the bureau’s director, Richard Cordray, said in an e-mailed statement. “Our older adult population is growing every year, which makes it even more critical that we study this issue.”

The bureau hired Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III, a former Minnesota attorney general, to head its Office of Older Americans in October. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, said their experiences suggest elder financial abuse is a serious issue.

“Get us together and we can tell you horrifying stories about these crimes – people looted of their pension benefits, or talked into investing much of their life savings in endless varieties of fraudulent schemes,” Cordray said at a White House event to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The victims often end up poor and “in a nursing home at the expense of American taxpayers.”

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