Cheektowaga, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood at the Cheektowaga Senior Center to announce the Senior Financial Empowerment Act, new legislation to protect seniors from financial fraud.
“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 tools to get help if they have been a victim of this crime.”
Every year, it is estimated that tens of thousands of seniors in New York are victims of financial scams and abuse. The Senior Financial Empowerment Act would ensure that seniors and their caregivers have critical information regarding financial abuse, standardize and improve the way elder 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 older adults before it happens.
“Senator Gillibrand’s legislation will provide a critical tool for protecting older adults from the devastating effects of financial fraud,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I share Senator Gillibrand’s concern about this important issue and have made prosecuting fraudsters who target seniors a top priority. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in proposing the Senior Financial Empowerment Act.”
“I am heartbroken every time I learn of a new scam targeting the elderly members of our community,” said Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski. “Our seniors have worked too long and too hard for their hard-earned money to become the victim of a scam. The more we can educate seniors as to what types of scams to be vigilant of, the better our community will be. Our seniors have earned this right and we owe it to them to do all we can to ensure they never become a victim of financial abuse or fraud. Cheektowaga and our community would be well served with the passage of this bill and I fully support Senator Gillibrand’s proposal.”
“The Senior Financial Empowerment Act is absolutely vital for the financial and emotional well-being of seniors, providing them with streamlined access to necessary resources, while also requiring an essential coordination of agencies, mandatory reporting, funding for prevention and research, and fostering increased public education and awareness,” said Nicole Parshall, Esq., Consumer Protection Attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice. “This legislation will work to both empower and protect seniors in our community.”
“Seniors are especially vulnerable to financial scams and are often taken advantage of by unscrupulous businesses or telemarketers who are adept at manipulating them into divulging personal information,” said Timothy Hogues, Erie County Senior Services Commissioner. “These predatory practices can leave older individuals with nothing, and often there is no recourse for them to recoup their losses. Senator Gillibrand’s Senior Financial Empowerment Act would provide a framework to prevent such abuse and exploitation before it takes place, empowering seniors to recognize scams themselves and putting protections in place that would prevent numerous types of fraud. I commend Senator Gillibrand for her commitment to protecting our seniors and look forward to working with her on their behalf.”
“Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York works everyday to protect our seniors from scams by utilizing our Scam Tracker tool to identify scams targeting the elderly, issuing alerts to the public through the media, and working with law enforcement partners to help stop the scams,” said Warren Clark, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. “We look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand on her new initiative.”