U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME), members of the Special Committee on Aging, reintroduced the bipartisan Senior Financial Empowerment Act to 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 and prevent financial exploitation of seniors. It is estimated that millions of seniors across the country are victims of financial scams and abuse every year — with scams related to COVID-19 alone costing consumers more than $460 million. In New York State alone, seniors are estimated to lose as much as $1.5 billion per year to financial fraud and abuse.
Throughout the pandemic, the range of financial scams targeting seniors expanded as public health and economic anxiety grew. Fraudsters impersonated banks and lenders, offering support with utility bills, credit card debt and other financial burdens.
“Giving seniors the tools they need to stay vigilant against financial fraud is the best way to protect their pocketbooks, and to put these fraudsters out of business. I am proud to work with Senator Collins on the Senior Financial Empowerment Act, so that seniors and their caregivers can respond to, report, and prevent costly financial scams and abuse plaguing our senior communities,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“From scams originating overseas to exploitation by trusted family members and guardians at home, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that is estimated to cost seniors nearly $3 billion annually,” said Senator Collins. “By cracking down on fraud, improving scam reporting, and providing additional educational resources to seniors, our bipartisan legislation would help us catch these ruthless criminals and prevent them from robbing seniors of their hard-earned life savings.”
“Many of LeadingAge’s 5,000 mission-driven members have taken a leadership role in addressing elder abuse and financial fraud affecting older persons, and we know that older adults will benefit tremendously from the protections in the Senior Financial Empowerment Act. We thank Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Collins (R-ME) for their commitment to protecting older adults and we look forward to working with them and other sponsors to gain support and passage of this important legislation,” Katie Smith Sloan, President & CEO of LeadingAge.
- 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.
Read the text of the bill here.
This legislation is endorsed by AARP and LeadingAge.