The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act 371-48 to protect older Americans from financial fraud and scams.
We have a massive problem these days with villains and fraudsters preying on older adults. Many of our senior citizens are living on tight budgets and fixed incomes, but the criminals don't care. They are out to steal their last dollar.
Sadly, government officials and law enforcement can't do enough to stay ahead of the fraudsters. The fraud artists work relentlessly to bombard vulnerable adults over the telephone, the internet, and even at their front door. Eventually, senior citizens get mentally fatigued and let their guard down, and are financially exploited. According to the FBI, in 2021 there were 92,371 victims of fraud who were over 60 totaling $1.7 billion in losses. What is eye-opening, 3,133 victims lost more than $100,000. On many occasions, this money is all of the victim's life savings.
Thankfully, Congress is working together in a bipartisan manner to provide protections and this bill will make a difference nationally. Many state securities regulators who will continue to play a major role in this effort have passed similar measures in state legislatures. Hopefully, the U.S. Senate will soon join in with their support and passage. The legislation sponsored by Representative Josh Gottheimer will give the Securities and Exchange Commission the tools to educate seniors and provide significant funding annually to prevent fraud by creating the Senior Investor Protection Program. The bipartisan companion bill in the Senate was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo)
At the end of the day, public officials and law enforcement can only do so much. We all have to step up our game to help keep an eye out for senior citizens. American Senior Alliance has taken to the airways with a scam prevention podcast in partnership with several State Attorneys General to educate the public on these crimes and how to prevent them. Interestingly, many political leaders and law enforcement say the best way to protect our vulnerable population is to educate and inform. Not only do we have to educate seniors, but we need to reach out to family members and offer solutions to them as well.