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At Senate Commerce Subcommittee Hearing, Klobuchar Highlights Efforts to Protect Seniors from Scams During Coronavirus Pandemic

Date: July 21, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Senior Citizens

Today, at a Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection hearing titled, "Protecting Americans from COVID-19 Scams," U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) highlighted the urgent steps needed to protect seniors from scams during the coronavirus pandemic. Klobuchar's legislation with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to protect seniors from scams during the pandemic was introduced in the House of Representatives today by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report to Congress on scams targeting seniors during the coronavirus 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 are in a public health crisis, but also an economic crisis. Sadly when that happens there are people who prey on people's vulnerabilities. While scammers have used the coronavirus to exploit Americans' fears, the impact of these scams on seniors have been particularly disturbing," Klobuchar said in her remarks.

"Reports have found that that 8 out of 10 people in this country who have lost their lives to the coronavirus are seniors, and that seniors, who also lose an estimated $3 billion annually to financial scams in a normal time, have been targeted with scams. Just last week in my state, we had a scammer that pretended to be the child of an elderly Minnesotan and convinced that person to send $25,000 to an address in Connecticut.

"That's why Senator Moran and I introduced the Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act in May to help prevent scammers from taking advantage of seniors during the pandemic."

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.

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.

Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Moran led a letter urging the FTC to protect seniors from contact tracing scams. In response to recent reports that scammers are posing as contact tracers in an attempt to financially exploit consumers and steal their personal identifying information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers, the letter urges the FTC to commit to taking action to better educate and assist seniors in recognizing legitimate contact tracing and understanding their recourse options should they fall victim to these scams.

In May, Klobuchar and Moran introduced legislation to protect seniors from scams during the coronavirus pandemic. The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act directs the FTC to report to Congress on scams targeting seniors during the coronavirus pandemic and make recommendations on how to prevent future scams during emergencies. 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.

In May, 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 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.


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