Walberg, Blunt Rochester Introduce the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act. The bipartisan Fraud and Scam Reduction Act would improve the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) prevention and response efforts against senior fraud and scams through enhanced coordination with key industries, consumer advocacy groups, appropriate law enforcement agencies, and consumers. The bill would accomplish this mission through the creation of the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group and the Senior Fraud Advisory Office. Blunt Rochester and Walberg originally introduced the Stop Senior Scams Act last year which was combined with the Senior Fraud and Prevention Act by Deutch, Buchanan, and Welch, and passed the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress.
“Far too often, vulnerable seniors in Michigan and across the country fall victim to financial scammers,” said Walberg. “With instances of fraud on the rise, we need to strengthen federal prevention efforts and ensure leaders in the public and private sectors are collaborating on effective safeguards. Our bipartisan bill is a critical step to protecting seniors’ hard-earned savings and stopping fraudulent schemes before it’s too late. I look forward to working with Rep. Blunt Rochester on getting this legislation across the finish line and signed into law.”
“Bad actors preying on older Americans is, unfortunately, nothing new. But in the midst of a global pandemic impacting Americans’ lives and livelihoods, cracking down on those scams must be a priority,” said Blunt Rochester. “This bill, as its name suggests, was aimed at cracking down on these scams by bringing public and private stakeholders together to give our seniors the resources they need and tackle these predatory schemes. While I was proud that we were able to pass the bill through the House of Representatives last Congress, it is my hope and expectation that the bill will pass both chambers of Congress this session and ultimately make it to President Biden’s desk for signature.”
“Seniors are often the biggest targets for scammers trying to confuse them into giving up money and personal information,” said Deutch. “We need a stronger federal effort to track, target, and warn against these fraudulent schemes. This bill will strengthen important consumer protections to help seniors protect their assets.”
“Seniors have worked their entire lives with the promise of a safe and secure retirement,” said Buchanan. “Unfortunately, criminals are taking advantage of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and working overtime to target them. Scams targeting the elderly threaten more than retirement accounts – they imperil the independence and trust of an already vulnerable community. We must do everything we can to safeguard the savings and dignity of Americans as they enter their golden years against those who try to defraud them.”
“Every day, in Vermont and across this country, vulnerable seniors are being ripped off by scam artists,” said Welch. “It’s not uncommon for their victims to lose their life’s savings. Our bill would give the federal government additional resources to alert seniors of fraudulent schemes and help stop these criminals in their tracks. This is a bipartisan, commonsense proposal that should be passed immediately.”
In the Senate, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Senator Bob Casey (D-P.A.) are leading the effort to pass similar anti-fraud legislation to protect vulnerable seniors from potential scams.
The Fraud and Scam Reduction Act is supported by AARP, the Consumer Federation of America, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Best Buy, the National Retail Federation, Target, Amazon and Walmart. Details of the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group and the Senior Fraud Advisory Office can be found below.
The Senior Fraud Advisory Office
Fraud is so prevalent that prevention is only part of the solution. After all, 1 in 20 seniors in the U.S. is a target of fraud schemes. Yet, the National Adult Protective Services Association has found that only 1 in 44 seniors report that they are victims of a fraud scheme, suggesting seniors lack information on how to file a complaint. A new fraud scheme designed to target seniors appears almost daily. In many cases, seniors have watched their entire life savings disappear in scams that are specifically designed to target their assets.
The Advisory Office would give these seniors hope in recovering their assets. It would address the low reporting rates by directing the FTC to educate seniors, families, and caregivers of the process for contacting law enforcement after being targeted in a fraud scheme. It would direct FTC to help improve the nation’s fraud response efforts by reforming FTC’s complaint system as well as enhancing fraud surveillance through better coordination with law enforcement agencies.
The Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group
Seniors are often targeted for their money or identity, commonly with fraudsters asking seniors to send a payment through gift cards, by wire transfer, credit card, or other predatory schemes. Retailers, financial services providers, and wire transfer companies have undertaken efforts to do their part to stop their customers, including seniors, from being scammed.
The FTC Advisory Group would bring together relevant government agencies, consumer advocates, and industry representatives to collect and develop model educational materials for retailers, financial institutions, and wire transfer companies to use in preventing scams on seniors. The FTC would coordinate efforts to educate the public and even the employees of key industries who often find themselves on the front lines of anti-scamming activities. Multi-stakeholder education efforts can help prevent fraud before it happens.