The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act would help prevent scammers from taking advantage of seniors during the coronavirus pandemic and future emergencies

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation to protect seniors from scams during the coronavirus pandemic. The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report scams targeting seniors during the pandemic to Congress and make recommendations on how to prevent future scams during emergencies. The bill also requires the FTC to update its website with information that will help seniors and their caregivers access contacts for law enforcement and mandates the FTC to coordinate with the media to distribute this information to ensure seniors and their caregivers are informed. Companion legislation was introduced by Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Troy Balderson (R-OH).

“We must ensure that seniors are not being taken advantage of during the coronavirus pandemic. All Americans deserve safety and dignity, yet new fraudulent schemes designed to target seniors appear frequently,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will help protect seniors from fraud during this public health crisis and prevent emergency-related scams in the future.”

“Every year scam artists target senior citizens resulting in financial losses between $2 billion and $12 billion, and now during the COVID-19 pandemic, these scammers are using fear and uncertainty to take advantage of our vulnerable populations,” said Sen. Moran. “We must ensure our seniors are protected, and this bipartisan legislation will help seniors and their caregivers become more informed about financial scams.”

“Our senior citizens have borne the brunt of this pandemic. Now, scammers are shamelessly targeting older Americans and preying on their COVID-19 fears,” said Rep. Kelly. “We have a moral obligation to stop these con artists by empowering seniors with facts and information while aggressively targeting criminals with all the resources available through the Federal Trade Commission.”

“Throughout the pandemic, uncertainty has led to many Ohioans falling victim to scam callers – especially vulnerable populations like seniors,” said Rep. Balderson. “We have a responsibility to stop bad actors like these scam artists in their tracks, and that starts with empowering the American people with information about known scam calls.”

The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act is endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition; American Society on Aging; and the National Adult Protective Services Association.

“We strongly support the reintroduction of the Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act. In communities across our nation, vulnerable older adults are still being victimized by heartless scam artists operating during a pandemic. And, even prior to the pandemic, the Government Accountability Office recently found that the costs of financial exploitation are estimated to be in the billions. Sens. Klobuchar and Moran are to be commended for re-introducing this legislation which must be approved as quickly as possible to help prevent more older adults from being defrauded and left in a perilous financial state,” said Bob Blancato, National Coordinator, Elder Justice Coalition.

“Our members in states and cities across this country are doing everything they can to prevent the growing barrage of scams and targeted financial exploitation of older adults,” said Peter Kaldes, CEO of the American Society on Aging. “We applaud federal action that supports empowering older adults, their families and caregivers to better safeguard themselves.”

“Scams and other forms of financial exploitation are devastating for older adult victims, both financially and emotionally. Those preying on the vulnerable aren’t shutting down during this pandemic. In fact, Adult Protective Services agencies are seeing an increase in reports of scams and financial exploitation. Greater awareness of scams and places to turn for help, such as law enforcement and adult protective services, can help protect seniors and rebuild their lives. On behalf of all states’ APS programs, we thank Senators Klobuchar and Moran for addressing this critical issue and look forward to working together to combat scams targeting seniors, both during this crisis and beyond,” said Lori Delagrammatikas, Executive Director of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers from fraud and support seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, Klobuchar and Moran led a bipartisan letter with 32 colleagues urging FTC Chairman Joseph Simons to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams, better inform consumers about scams, and assist victims in understanding their recourse options to ensure that seniors are protected from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic.

Also in March, Klobuchar and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to increase seniors’ virtual connection to health care and their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act would make federal funding available to expand telehealth and virtual services at nursing facilities so that seniors remain connected to their health care providers and communities when in-person visits are limited during the pandemic.

In May, Klobuchar and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a group of their colleagues in expressing concern to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons about the recent increase in scams targeting small businesses and requesting information on measures the FTC is taking to address the issue to better protect small businesses.

In November 2020, Klobuchar and Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) bipartisan legislation to crack down on fraud targeted at seniors passed the Senate. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would help fight scams designed to strip seniors of their assets by directing the FTC to establish a task force dedicated to combating fraud against seniors, helping educate seniors about fraud schemes and improve monitoring and response to fraud complaints.