The cost is staggering: approximately $37 billion dollars annually is lost to financial fraud that targets elderly Americans. In addition to actions taken by individual states, Congress is now considering legislation that would strengthen penalties for those convicted of scamming older consumers.
Money Magazine’s article, “Congress Is Getting Serious About Preventing Elder Fraud,” reports that Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) recently said they are drafting federal legislation that will introduce tougher penalties for scammers who target senior consumers.
The bill also promotes interagency coordination in elder abuse cases. This will include improvement in investigation and prosecution, as well as enhancing survivor assistance and data collection.
Fraud schemes targeting seniors are expected to increase, given that the number of people over 65 will more than double from 46 million currently to 98 million by 2060. It’s estimated that seniors lose anywhere from $3 billion to $36.5 billion each year to fraud and financial abuse.
While the elderly may not be defrauded at as high of rates as younger consumers, the types of scams perpetrated against them have a more significant effect. The most common of these scams concern lottery winnings and prize promotions, in addition to fraudsters representing that they are technical support specialists who can “fix” non-existent computer problems.
Other bills have been introduced in Congress in the past to achieve similar goals. Last June saw the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act introduced by Senator Klobuchar from Minnesota, and The Senior $afe Act of 2015 was introduced by Senator Collins from Maine. A legislation tracking site Govtrack.com estimates that neither of these bills are likely to be enacted. Hopefully Senators Grassley and Blumenthal will have better success.
Reference: Money (June 2, 2016) “Congress Is Getting Serious About Preventing Elder Fraud”