Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Senior Financial Empowerment Act, new bipartisan legislation to protect seniors from financial fraud.
“From scams originating overseas to exploitation by trusted family members and guardians at home, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually,” said Senator Collins. “As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, one of my top priorities is to protect seniors from fraud. By improving scam reporting and providing additional educational resources to seniors, this legislation would help us catch these unscrupulous criminals and prevent them from robbing seniors of their hard-earned life savings.”
“Senior fraud is a destructive and dangerous crime, in which scammers prey on vulnerable citizens, steal their personal information, and harm them financially with very few consequences,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Under the current system, when seniors report these crimes, the information often isn’t shared with the proper authorities, and scammers are able to continue committing these crimes against other seniors. We need to do everything we can to prevent and fight back against senior fraud. This new legislation would give seniors the resources they need to be educated about this crime and the tools they need to get help if they have been a victim of fraud.”
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of seniors across the country are victims of financial scams and abuse every year. The Senior Financial Empowerment Act would ensure that seniors and their caregivers have access to critical information regarding financial abuse. The bill would standardize and improve the way senior financial abuse is reported, establish a national hotline that would advise seniors on where and how to report fraud, and provide more resources to combat financial exploitation of seniors before it happens.
This legislation would help protect seniors from financial fraud by doing the following:
• Centralizing services for consumer education and data on scams and fraud targeting seniors;
• Improving reporting of suspected instances of elder financial abuse;
• Educating certain entities regarding elder financial abuse;
• Creating a grant program to prevent mail, telemarketing, and internet fraud;
• Directing the National Institutes of Health to conduct scientific research on older adults’ increased vulnerability to scams; and
• Designating a National Senior Fraud Awareness Week.
This legislation has been endorsed by AARP and LeadingAge.