To better protect seniors from financial fraud designed to target their assets, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) have introduced the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2013. This bipartisan legislation would establish an advisory office within the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Affairs to better protect seniors from fraudulent investment plans and asset management offers; sweepstakes and charity scams; and telemarketing, mail, and Internet fraud. This advisory office would be tasked with educating and alerting seniors to new scams and establishing a more effective complaint system to ensure reports of fraud are quickly addressed by the appropriate law enforcement agency.
"While financial fraud can hit anyone, in Florida, we know all too well how seniors who have worked hard their entire lives to retire securely make high value targets for scam artists," said Congressman Deutch. "As the Baby Boomers retire and a growing number of Americans become vulnerable to schemes designed to go after their assets, the federal government must proactively alert the public of the latest threats and work closely with law enforcement to protect our seniors' financial security."
"Seniors spend their entire lives working hard and saving so that they can retire with peace of mind," said Congressman Vern Buchanan. "Unfortunately, an increasing number of criminals are targeting Americans over 65, the fastest growing population in our country. With nearly 200,000 seniors living in my area of Southwest Florida, I understand that these crimes steal more than our loved ones' money -- they also steal their independence and trust. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act is a critical step to combating fraud, protecting seniors and bringing those responsible for these unthinkable crimes to justice."
"Every day across this country, vulnerable seniors are being ripped off by scam artists," said Rep. Peter Welch, "It's not uncommon for their victims to lose their life's savings. Our bill would put a federal cop on the beat to alert seniors of fraudulent schemes and help stop these criminals in their tracks."
A Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances for 2010 found that households with people 65 and older had approximately 1/3 of the wealth of the United States. According to a MetLife Study on Financial Elder Abuse, annual losses from elder financial fraud increased 12% to $2.9 billion in 2010 from $2.6 billion in 2008. Significant psychological research also suggests that age-related changes in memory, cognition, and emotion can make elderly Americans more vulnerable to fraud.