House Approves Bill to Protect Seniors from Financial Scams

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A large majority of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives support an initiative to protect senior citizens from financial scams.

Millions of elderly become victims of various scams and lose nearly $3 billion every year.

On Wednesday, the lower chamber of Congress passed the Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors. Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) sponsored the bipartisan bill, which received 371 yes and 48 no votes.

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In his remarks on the House floor, Gottheimer noted that a significant number of seniors including his mother have been victimized by financial scammers. According to him, a scammer pretending as an IRS agent targeted his mother. They figured out that it was a scam. They stopped that “fraudulent IRS agent in his tracks.”

“Far too many have been cheated out of their retirement savings. Our seniors should be spending time with their kids, grandkids, and friends — not staying up late at night worrying about whether someone is preying on their retirement nest egg,” said the New Jersey congressman.

Gottheimer added, “Seniors need a cop on the beat, and my bipartisan bill which the House passed today will take concrete action to ensure protections are in place.”

The New Jersey congressman also noted a report from the Investor Protection Trust that seven million seniors were victims of financial exploitation last year. “What worse is that only one in every 24 cases of elder exploitation actually gets reported,” he said.

The bipartisan bill will establish a new Senior Investor Protection Grant Program. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will responsible in implementing the program to help state enforcement agencies and task forces protect and educate the elderly regarding financial scams.

The bill authorizes annual funding of $10 million to regulators so they can hire additional investigative staff, acquire new equipment, and technology, train law enforcement, and educate seniors about financial scams.

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Scott (R-SC), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced a companion bipartisan legislation in the Senate.

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