Collins bill fights financial fraud targeting older Americans

With AARP reporting this week that scams related to COVID-19 cost consumers, mostly older Americans, more than $485 million, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) recently offered bipartisan legislation to ensure that senior citizens and their caregivers have access to financial abuse information.

“From scams originating overseas to exploitation by trusted family members and guardians at home, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that is estimated to cost seniors nearly $3 billion annually,” said Sen. Collins, who serves on the U.S. Senate Aging Committee. 

The Senior Financial Empowerment Act of 2021, S. 2116, which Sen. Collins cosponsored on June 17 with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would help prevent mail, telemarketing and internet fraud targeting seniors in the United States. It would also promote efforts to increase public awareness of the enormous impact that mail, telemarketing and internet fraud have on seniors, and educate the public, seniors, their families, and their caregivers about how to identify and combat fraudulent activity, according to the text of the bill. 

“By cracking down on fraud, improving scam reporting, and providing additional educational resources to seniors, our bipartisan legislation would help us catch these ruthless criminals and prevent them from robbing seniors of their hard-earned life savings,” Sen. Collins said.

If enacted, S. 2116 would centralize services for consumer education and data on scams and fraud targeting seniors; bolster reporting of suspected instances of elder financial abuse; educate certain entities on elder financial abuse; create a grant program to prevent mail, telemarketing and internet fraud; and direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct scientific research on older adults’ increased vulnerability to scams, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ staff.

The legislation has been endorsed by AARP and LeadingAge.