On Tuesday, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), on behalf of a bipartisan coalition of nearly all state attorneys general, appealed to Congress in a letter, asking the legislature to support the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act (H.R. 1215). According to NAAG’s press release, the legislation, comprising both the Stop Senior Scam Act (SSSA) and Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2021 (SFPA), will help stakeholders train their employees to recognize signs of elder fraud and intervene to prevent irreversible harm.
The letter notes that senior citizens comprise an increasingly large domestic demographic that will soon reach 20% of the population. It cites federal agency research finding that elder fraud and scams affect at least 10% of older Americans each year and result in nearly $3 billion in losses annually.
According to the letter, the SSSA will establish an advisory group accountable to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The group will be tasked with collecting information about the existence, use, and efficacy of educational materials to help retailers, financial services, and wire-transfer companies train their employees on how to identify and prevent scams that impact the elderly.
The SFPA will establish an Office for the Prevention of Fraud Targeting Seniors, within the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection under the proposal. The office will monitor fraud schemes that use mail, television, internet, telemarketing, and robocalling means. It will also disseminate information about commonly used fraud schemes and how to report them to authorities.
In addition, the FTC will work with the U.S. Attorney General to record and track victim complaints, and relay that information to relevant law enforcement agencies. The letter remarks that the attorneys general, as chief law enforcement officers of their respective states and territories, have the responsibility to shield the elderly from financial exploitation. Because of the protections the bill offers, the letter stated, the attorneys general urge the Senate to take up and pass the law expediently.