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The AARP Public Policy Institute focuses on issues of critical importance as we age. Below we highlight research, analysis, background and commentary on Consumer Protection.

Recent Analysis

How Banks and Credit Unions Can Better Serve and Protect People 50-Plus

To better understand how consumers’ banking practices and experiences have changed, AARP surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 or older. The research reveals an evolving landscape of banking practices, generational differences, and the age-friendly banking services consumers want their financial institutions to prioritize. Read.

Fighting Financial Exploitation on Person-to-Person Payment Platforms: What Consumers Want

While use of these Person-to-Person (P2P) payment services has continued to grow, financial exploitation perpetrated on P2P platforms has also been on the rise. Read.

The Scope of Elder Financial Exploitation: What It Costs Victims

Elder financial exploitation (EFE) is “the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets.” Perpetrators range from family members and other people a victim knows (“known others”) to professional criminals. Through this kind of exploitation, many victims are stripped of a significant part of their retirement savings; declines in mental and physical health are also a consequence. Read

Working Collaboratively with Retailers to Fight Gift Card Fraud

Gift card fraud affects people of all ages, causing the average victim to lose $1,000. Since the start of the pandemic, gift card fraud has rapidly increased, with reported cases more than doubling in frequency. This report offers a look at gift card fraud from various angles before providing an assessment of industry’s role in intervention, both currently and in terms of future opportunities. Read

The Financial Pain Points for Older Consumers: A Look at the CFPB Complaint Database

Ten years after its creation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) complaint database serves as a powerful tool for individuals to file complaints about a financial product or service, to see that their voices are heard, and in some cases to obtain relief. This report examines complaints filed with the CFPB from individuals self-reporting as older adults, largely focused on the time period from January 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021. Read

The Thief Who Knows You: The Cost of Elder Exploitation Examined

With a close eye on the all-important question of cost – that is, the cost to victims, financial institutions, and government budgets – AARP BankSafe™’s report defines financial exploitation, summarizes the methodologies and findings of studies that have examined its costs, and sheds light on what we know about both victims and perpetrators. Read

Shaping the Future of Digital Health: Key Themes Emerging from a Series of Roundtables on the Health Data Revolution

Based on a series of 2019 roundtables organized by the AARP Public Policy Institute and National Partnership for Women & Families on the rapidly accelerating use and sharing of health information, this paper summarizes what excites and concerns consumer and family caregiver advocates as well as policy options that should be considered as the field continues to innovate.  Read

A Look at College Costs across Generations

College costs have risen dramatically over the past several decades. This report compares college costs from 1964-1965 up through the present day, and examines how higher costs—and increased borrowing—may affect young workers’ future retirement security. Read

The Student Loan Debt Threat: An Intergenerational Problem

Student loan debt is an intergenerational problem, burdening borrowers of all ages and threatening the long-term financial security of millions of families. This paper examines the landscape of student loan debt with a focus on older borrowers, including increasing loan balances, defaults, taking on debt to help family members, and the implication for long-term financial security. Read

Older Consumers: Especially Vulnerable to Utility Price Increases

Older consumers are vulnerable to cold weather, and many have difficulty paying for home heating during winter months. The percentage of households ages 65+ using energy assistance programs doubled from 2.6 percent in 2011 to 5.2 percent in 2015. Read

Maintaining Privacy and Security while Connected to the Internet

An AARP Public Policy Institute survey finds that Internet users of all ages are concerned about security and privacy, and that concern is strongest among older Americans. Read

AARP’s BankSafe Grants: Preventing Exploitation Through Bank Staff Training

Through this Request for Proposals (RFP), AARP is seeking partners within the financial industry to create a free online training program that will help employees in local financial institutions to detect and prevent exploitation.  Selected coalitions will receive from AARP a grant of $10,000 to help develop and disseminate training to banks and credit unions to assist with its BankSafe Initiative. Read

Challenges and Opportunities in Managing Digital Estates

An AARP Public Policy Institute survey finds that Internet users are accumulating large amounts of digital assets, but many have not planned for the disposition of their digital assets in the event of death or incapacitation. This lack of action can result in heirs losing access to their loved one’s digital assets. Read

Snapshots: Banks Empowering Customers and Fighting Exploitation

This report showcases simple and effective solutions financial institutions are using to fight exploitation. Read

AARP's BankSafe Report: Evidence Consumers Want Their Financial Institution to Fight Exploitation

This study measures account holders' interest in features related to preventing exploitation and financial caregiving, and interest in greater banking accessibility. Read

Nightmare on Main Street

This is the first study to measure the progression of the mortgage crisis and its effect on people age 50 and older.  Based on an analysis of nationwide loan-level data for the years 2007 to 2011, this study examines loan performance based on borrower age, loan type, and borrower demographics. Read

Mobile Device Privacy Disclosures Need Improvement

Mobile device use continues to increase amid growing concern that consumers are unaware how much sensitive data these devices can capture and share. Read

Choosing a Home for Someone Else

How professional guardians decide where incapacitated adults should live, and recommendations for improving the process. Read

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Susan Reinhard is senior vice president and director of AARP Public Policy Institute. Read her latest blogs on family caregiving, healthy living, nursing and more. Read Susan's Blogs