Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation to better protect America's senior citizens from a prevalent form of financial fraud, known as an "affinity scam'. A typical affinity scam involves transactions in which a person trusted by a senior uses this relationship to defraud the senior of money. The Preventing Affinity Scams on Seniors (PASS) Act requires financial institutions to offer services to protect seniors from affinity scams, and to report suspected affinity scams to the pertinent law enforcement agencies.
"Sadly, financial fraud perpetrated against America's senior citizens is becoming an all-too common phenomenon," said Rep. Baca. "Conservative estimates show that seniors lose at least $2.6 billion-a-year to thieves through various forms of financial schemes. We have a moral responsibility in Congress to do all we can to protect these most vulnerable Americans. By strengthening protections for seniors and creating new affinity scam reporting requirements for financial institutions, the PASS Act takes concrete steps to safeguard the financial wellbeing of our elderly population."
The PASS Act contains numerous provisions designed to better protect America's seniors from financial fraud. The legislation requires financial institutions to:
* Offer "senior protection accounts" which allow senior customers to opt-in for services that stop the processing and investigate the legitimacy of those transactions suspected to be part of affinity scams (banks will receive a small tax deduction on all funding kept in these protection accounts);
* Notify identified affinity scams transactions to the affected seniors and the appropriate law enforcement agencies; and
* Provide training to their staff and educate their customers on affinity scams targeting senior citizens.
The bill also prohibits financial institutions from discriminating against or raising service fees of any kind for seniors because of their use of "senior protection accounts".
"Elder financial abuse is a real threat to the health, economic security, and dignity of millions of older Americans," said Rep. Baca. "After a lifetime of service to their families, communities, and the nation at large, senior citizens deserve financial peace of mind in their elder years. I am proud to introduce this responsible legislation, which ensures our financial institutions do all they can to protect seniors from scams and keep law enforcement properly informed when fraud is suspected."
As a Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, Rep. Baca has been a lead advocate in Congress for greater consumer protections, and strengthened oversight and accountability of America's financial institutions. Rep. Baca also introduced the PASS Act in the previous (111th Congress).