Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sponsored Senate Bill 81, the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2017. Both senators have spoken out about the need to protect seniors from fraud and scams. From Internet fraud to charity scams and Ponzi schemes, elderly citizens are often targeted. The intention of the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to coordinate with other agencies to best monitor for fraud schemes and to distribute information to seniors and their families about how to recognize and report scams.
Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Passes Senate
Without any objection or amendment, the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act passed the Senate on August 2. It was then referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The companion House Resolution 444, sponsored by Rep. Deutch (D-FL), remains with the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. It is now up to the House of Representatives to review the bill and determine whether it moves forward and whether it moves toward becoming law as is or with adjustments,
What Would the Bill do?
If made into law, the Senate bill would require the FTC to create a new office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection. The purpose of this new office would be to:
- Advise the FTC on how to prevent fraud targeted at seniors
- Help the FTC monitor the market for mail, TV, Internet, telemarketing, and robocall fraud aimed at harming the elderly
- Disseminate to seniors and their families and caregivers information regarding common fraud schemes and the methods of making complaints about scams
- In response to specific requests, provide a person or business with publically available information about the FTC’s enforcement action
- Maintain a website as a resource about fraud targeting seniors
The FTC would also be required to establish procedures for how to document and acknowledge complaints by individuals who may have been victims of fraud within the Consumer Sentinel Network, and to make these complaints immediately available to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
Fraud is a Common Problem for the Elderly
Unfortunately, fraudulent scams are a common issue for senior citizens. Individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. intentionally target the elderly who may not have the ability or wherewithal to realize it is not a valid charity, investment, business, or contest. There are constantly new types of scams within the market, and during a single year, these schemes can fraudulently obtain millions of dollars from elderly individuals.
“A new fraud scheme designed to target seniors appears almost daily, and in many cases, seniors watch their entire life savings disappear in scams that are specifically designed to target their assets,” stated Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will improve efforts to combat fraud targeting seniors so we can help ensure all Americans have safety and dignity in their senior years.”
Has Your Elderly Loved One Been Targeted?
If you or your elderly loved one appears to have been a victim of a financial scheme, contact an experienced elder abuse attorney from Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020 right away. We offer free initial consultations so we can learn about your situation and advise you on what to do next.
(image courtesy of Aidan Bartos)