CFPB suggests banking practices to promote financial health of older Americans

Banks and credit unions should design account offerings to promote the financial health of older adults, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said today in a new report, “Overdraft Fees and Economically Insecure Older Adults.” The report noted that older adults pay fees for overdraft services less frequently than other age groups but added that the economically insecure could be affected more than others because “they are often unable to adjust their carefully managed budgets” when they incur fees.

The report suggested financial institutions implement age-friendly banking practices such as offering view-only account access and/or convenience accounts for financial caregivers, allowing account holders to identify a trusted contact person who can be alerted about account issues, and enabling financial caregivers to receive low balance alerts. Financial institutions also should provide customer service to respond to consumers’ concerns about bank fees in person, by phone and online, according to the report. The CFPB stated it will track the effect of overdraft fees on older adults through analysis of consumer complaints, among other strategies.

Banks are already taking many steps to protect older adults, according to a 2021 survey by the ABA Foundation. The report found that most banks that participated in the survey offered products with favorable terms for older customers, such no-fee checking accounts, waiving of other charges, no minimum balances, and senior savings accounts with no fees, high yields and other favorable terms.