About two weeks ago, S. 512, The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2019 authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) cleared the Senate Commerce Committee (ordered to be reported without amendment favorably) and now awaits consideration by the full Senate. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would help fight scams designed to strip seniors of their assets by helping educate seniors about fraud schemes and improve monitoring and response to fraud complaints
Schemes directed at seniors include fraudulent investment plans, prizes, sweepstakes, Internet fraud, charity scams, predatory home lenders, telemarketing and mail fraud, and Ponzi schemes. This bipartisan bill would help fight scams designed to rob seniors of their assets by educating them about fraud schemes and improving the monitoring of and response to fraud complaints, says Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee.
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida joined with Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Florida} and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) to reintroduce the House companion measure to S. 512.
Congressional Budget Office estimates, issued on April 11, 2019, that the cost associated with implementing the bill would be less than $500,000.
Protecting Seniors from Scams
“As the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, combating fraud has long been one of my top priorities. Though we have held numerous hearings exposing and examining these scams in order to protect seniors, much more remains to be done,” said Collins, in an April 16 statement announcing committee passage of the legislation proposal. “The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would enhance fraud monitoring, increase consumer education, and strengthen the complaint tracking system to help prevent seniors from being robbed of their hard-earned savings through threatening and manipulative scams,” she says.
According to Collins, S. 512 would help protect seniors from fraud schemes by strengthening the reporting system to ensure complaints of fraud are handled quickly by the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The legislative proposal would also require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency responsible for handling consumer complaints, to coordinate with other agencies to monitor the market for fraud schemes targeting seniors. In addition, the bill would require the FTC to distribute information to seniors, their families, and their caregivers explaining how to recognize fraud schemes and how to contact law enforcement authorities in the event that a senior is targeted. The Maine Senator noted that the The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act previously passed the Senate unanimously in 2017.
Earlier this year, Senator Collins released the Aging Committee’s 2019 Fraud Book in a hearing titled: “Fighting Elder Fraud: Progress Made, Work to be Done.” Last year, the Senior$afe Act, a bipartisan bill Collins authored with then-Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), was signed into law. This new law will provide support to regulators, financial institutions, and legal organizations to educate their employees about how to identify, prevent, and report financial exploitation.
The Senate Aging Committee operates a toll-free Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470) for people to report being victimized by scam artists or to receive assistance if they think they are being scammed.