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Legislation cracks down on fraud targeted at seniors

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, recently introduced bipartisan legislation to crack down on fraud targeted at seniors.

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The Seniors Fraud Protection Act would help fight scams designed to strip seniors of their assets by helping seniors, their families, and caregivers identify and avoid fraud schemes; improving the complaint system for seniors involved in fraud schemes; and enhancing the monitoring of the types of schemes and number of seniors targeted. Representatives Ted Deutch (R-FL), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced companion legislation in the House.

"Too often seniors can have their entire life savings snatched up in scams specifically designed to target their assets," Klobuchar said. "This bill will give seniors and their families the tools they need to avoid scams before they happen, and will also help make sure that when a complaint is filed, it gets into the right hands so it can be addressed swiftly and effectively."

"Our bill would help protect seniors from fraud by establishing an advisory office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection. This office would be responsible for increasing oversight, consumer education, and establishing a complaint tracking system focused on scams that target our seniors," said Collins. "As ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging, I have focused particular attention on one scam, known as the Jamaican lottery scam, that is targeting vulnerable seniors and robbing them of their life savings through manipulation and threats. At a hearing earlier this year, we highlighted the need to crack down on this illegal activity by educating consumers and better coordinating government resources. Our parents and grandparents worked hard and saved for retirement. We should do all that we can to coordinate efforts to educate consumers and share information amongst law enforcement stakeholders about these scams targeting our seniors so that we can stop these criminals."

Fraud schemes targeting seniors include fraudulent investment plans, fraudulent prizes and sweepstakes, internet fraud, charity scams, predatory home lenders, telemarketing and mail fraud, accessing assets through undue influence, using fraudulent legal documents, Ponzi schemes, and other fraudulent acts.

The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would help protect seniors from these fraud schemes by strengthening the complaint system to ensure complaints of fraud are handled quickly by the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The bill 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 materials to seniors, their families, and their caregivers that explains the process for contacting law enforcement authorities in the event that a senior is targeted in a fraud scheme.

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