Consumer Payment Card News

Older Americans Get Confused and Pissed-Off with Financial Products

Some older consumers on fixed incomes use credit cards to pay for unanticipated large expenses, such as medical needs. Consumers complain about confusion understanding credit card terms and conditions. One particular example highlighted in the report are complaints from older consumers about struggles to understand the distinction between deferred interest and zero interest offers. 

Older consumers are also often the target of financial scams and identity theft. Older consumers working to recover from scams or exploitation have complained about difficulty with correcting credit reports, disputing charges with credit card companies, and attempting to regain money that was withdrawn from their bank accounts.

Reverse mortgages, exclusively available to people over 62 years of age, are a special type of loan that allows people to borrow against the equity in their homes. Older consumers with reverse mortgages seeking to stay in their house following the death of the borrowing spouse report servicing problems that sometimes result in foreclosure proceedings. A 2015 report published by the Bureau examines consumer frustrations surrounding reverse mortgages.

Additionally, older consumers complain about being charged for items such as credit monitoring services they did not sign up for. Some of these consumers also complained that they were enrolled in these types of programs without proper disclosure of the program and its costs.

The findings come from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Monthly Complaint Report” which also found complaints related to mortgages have accounted for 26% of all older consumer complaints submitted to the Bureau since 2011. This is 10 percentage points higher than the proportion of mortgage complaints from consumers under 62.

California, Florida, and Texas are the three states with the most complaints from older consumers, accounting for nearly one fourth of all complaints from older consumers since the Bureau began accepting complaints in July 2011.


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