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Klobuchar Legislation to Protect Seniors from Scams During Coronavirus Pandemic Introduced in the House

Date: July 22, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Senior Citizens

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) legislation with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to protect seniors from scams during the coronavirus pandemic was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives 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 (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, bicameral legislation will help protect seniors from fraud during this public health crisis and help prevent emergency-related scams in the future."

"Our senior citizens have borne the brunt of this pandemic. Now, scammers and rip-off artists are targeting older Americans and preying on their fears related to COVID-19," Congresswoman Robin Kelly said. "We have a moral obligation to stop these con artists by empowering seniors with facts and information while aggressively targeting criminals with all available FTC resources."

"It is despicable that people would exploit the fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of vulnerable older Americans," said U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. "Ensuring that all Americans have access to timely information about current scams as well as where to turn for help is important as we work to crack down on these predatory crimes. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to protect our senior citizens from fraud."

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.

Yesterday, at a Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection hearing titled, "Protecting Americans from COVID-19 Scams," Klobuchar highlighted the urgent steps needed to protect seniors from scams 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 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 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 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.