Amid the sweeping $1.5 trillion spending omnibus package passed by Congress last week was a measure designed to address the pervasive increase and growing problem of scams and financial exploitation, particularly of older Americans.
The bipartisan Fraud and Scam Reduction Act will establish a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group to prevent scams that target seniors. The body will create educational materials and information on model programs to guide retailers, financial services and wire-transfer companies on prevention. Additionally, it will create an office within the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to advise the agency about preventing fraud targeting seniors and assist with monitoring mail, television, internet, telemarketing and robocalls targeting older Americans.
The measure was passed as part of the 2,741-page bipartisan 2022 omnibus appropriations bill. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law this week as part of the yearly government funding package.
The measure was sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Peter Welch (D-VT).
“All Americans deserve safety and dignity in their senior years, but too often, older Americans are the targets of deceptive scams,” Klobuchar said. “New schemes designed to defraud seniors appear almost daily and can have serious consequences, such as wiping out a person’s entire life savings. This bipartisan legislation is a critical step towards combating fraud targeting seniors by identifying scams and educating consumers to prevent more seniors from falling victim to these tactics.”
The AARP applauded the bill’s passing Friday.
“AARP is at the forefront of championing laws and regulations that prevent financial exploitation against seniors and empower consumers to protect themselves,” AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond said in a press release. “Scammers use a wide range of increasingly sophisticated tactics and opportunities to steal money or sensitive personal information, so our nation’s laws need to keep up. The Fraud and Scam Reduction Act includes important protections that can benefit all Americans.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently hosted a webinar offering a series of tips to help senior living residents and their caregivers recognize and avoid cyber scams.
Although more younger people report losing money to fraud (44% of adults aged 20 to 29) compared with older adults (20% of those aged 70 to 79), older adults have higher losses ($1,300 each, on average) compared with their younger counterparts ($324), according to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020.