Klobuchar, Moran Introduce Legislation to Protect Seniors from Scams During Coronavirus Pandemic
Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation to protect seniors from scams during the coronavirus pandemic. The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report to Congress on scams targeting seniors during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and make recommendations on how to prevent future scams during emergencies. The bill also directs the FTC to update its website with information that will help seniors and their caregivers access contacts for law enforcement and adult protective agencies, and directs the FTC to coordinate with the media to distribute this information to ensure seniors and their caregivers are informed.
"We must ensure that seniors are not being taken advantage of during the coronavirus pandemic. All Americans deserve safety and dignity in their senior years, yet new fraudulent schemes designed to target seniors appear almost daily," said Klobuchar. "This bipartisan legislation will help protect seniors from fraud during this public health crisis and help prevent emergency-related scams in the future."
"Every year scam artists target senior citizens resulting in financial losses between $2 billion and $12 billion, and now during the COVID-19 pandemic, these scammers are using fear and uncertainty to take advantage of our vulnerable populations," said Moran. "We must ensure our seniors are protected, and this bipartisan legislation will help seniors and their caregivers become more informed about financial scams."
The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act is endorsed by AARP; the Elder Justice Coalition; American Society on Aging; and the National Adult Protective Services Association.
"We strongly support the introduction of the Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act. It is a tragedy that this legislation is even needed but in communities across our nation we find vulnerable older adults being victimized by heartless scam artists operating during a pandemic. Sens. Klobuchar and Moran are to be commended for introducing this legislation which needs to be approved as quickly as possible so more older adults are not defrauded and left in a perilous financial state," said Bob Blancato, National Coordinator, Elder Justice Coalition.
"Our members in states and cities across this country are doing everything they can to prevent the growing barrage of scams and targeted financial exploitation of older adults," said Peter Kaldes, CEO of the American Society on Aging. "We applaud federal action that supports families, caregivers and law enforcement in shielding vulnerable elders while also empowering elders to better safeguard themselves."
"Scams and other forms of financial exploitation are devastating for older adult victims, both financially and emotionally. Those preying on the vulnerable aren't shutting down during this pandemic, instead seeing it as a prime opportunity to exploit seniors. Greater awareness of scams and places to turn for help, such as law enforcement and adult protective services, can help protect seniors and rebuild their lives. On behalf of all states' APS programs, we thank Senators Klobuchar and Moran for addressing this critical issue and look forward to working together to combat scams targeting seniors, both during this crisis and beyond," said Lori Delagrammatikas, Executive Director of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers from fraud and support seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, Klobuchar and Moran led a bipartisan letter with 32 colleagues urging FTC Chairman Joseph Simons to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams, better inform consumers about scams, and assist victims in understanding their recourse options to ensure that seniors are protected from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a group of their colleagues in expressing concern to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons about the recent increase in scams targeting small businesses and requesting information on measures the FTC is taking to address the issue to better protect small businesses.
In March, Klobuchar and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to increase seniors' virtual connection to health care and their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act would make federal funding available to expand telehealth and virtual services at nursing facilities so that seniors remain connected to their health care providers and communities when in-person visits are limited during the pandemic.
In April 2019, Klobuchar and Senator Susan Collins' (R-ME) bipartisan legislation to crack down on fraud targeted at seniors passed the Senate Commerce Committee. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would help fight scams designed to strip seniors of their assets by directing the FTC to establish a task force dedicated to combating fraud against seniors, helping educate seniors about fraud schemes and improve monitoring and response to fraud complaints.