LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of attorneys general in urging congressional leaders to support the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act. The Act, which comprises the Stop Senior Scam Act and Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2021, will assist stakeholders in training employees to recognize the warning signs of elder fraud and to prevent irreversible damage to elderly victims.
The FBI reports nearly $3 billion in losses annually as a result of elder fraud and scams. The Department of Justice estimates that elder abuse, which includes financial fraud, scams and exploitation, affects “at least 10% of older Americans every year.”
According to a 2019 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, between 2013 to 2017, suspicious
activity reports of elder financial exploitation quadrupled. This report also estimated the average loss as a result of elder fraud exploitation to be $34,400, and in a significant minority of cases the loss to the victim was over $100,000.5 Furthermore, “half of the elder financial exploitation suspicious activity reports analyzed, the targeted person used a money transfer. These statistics demonstrate the need for vigilance by industry and government, and a comprehensive approach to preventing fraudsters from victimizing vulnerable elders.
Attorney General Nessel remains steadfast in her commitment to protecting seniors and in 2019 launched the Elder Abuse Task Force to combat the complex issue of elder abuse.
“My office established our Elder Abuse Task Force because seniors are an especially vulnerable group,” Nessel said. “The Fraud and Scam Reduction Act will further the work we do to protect our seniors by providing educational resources to both seniors and those who care for them.”
The Act, H.R. 1215, is bipartisan legislation that will provide innovative ways to combat the financial exploitation of senior citizens. The legislation will establish the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group that would be accountable to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The group will collect data generated by stakeholders such as retailers, financial services, and wire-transfer companies to help educate employees on how to identify and prevent scams that target seniors. The group will develop training and educational materials for those employees best suited to identify the warning signs of elder fraud.
The Act also establishes the Office for the Prevention of Fraud Targeting Seniors—housed in the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the FTC. The office will complement the efforts of the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group by:
- Monitoring emerging scams that target seniors through the internet, mail, robocalls, telemarketing and television;
- Disseminating information on common fraud schemes; and
- Sharing information on how to report suspected senior fraud scams to a national fraud hotline and the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.
The FTC will also work with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to log and track complaints from victims and relay the information to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.