WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a workshop focused on educating Ohio seniors about fraud and identity theft, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) discussed a new bill aimed at preventing financial scams carried out on senior citizens. The legislation, known as the Senior Financial Empowerment Act, would help protect Ohio seniors from financial fraud by cracking down on mail, telemarketing, and Internet fraud aimed at seniors and the elderly. The bill would also help provide additional educational resources to seniors so that they can protect themselves from these types of scams.
“Criminals may see seniors—who have scrimped and saved their entire lives to enjoy retirement—as ripe targets for financial fraud. Internet and telemarketing scams are always troubling, but the targeting of senior citizens is particularly disturbing,” Brown said. “But we can take a dual-ended approach to combating ‘senior scams’ not only by strengthening the resources to stop these hucksters in the first place, but also providing retirees with the information they need to keep their nest egg safe and sound.”
Brown was joined by Esther Holtwick, a senior citizen who was once a victim of a credit card fraud, but who is now the Financial Education Director at Wealth, Education, Collaboration, and Opportunity (WECO) Fund, Inc., an organization that provides financial services and programs to low and moderate-income individuals and families in northeast Ohio. Mayor Gary Norton of East Cleveland and Bruce Murphy, President of Community Banking at KeyBank also joined Brown to discuss the need to protect senior citizens from fraud and identity theft.
Specifically, the Senior Financial Empowerment Act would:
- Require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): (1) to disseminate to seniors and their families and caregivers information on mail, telemarketing, and Internet fraud targeting seniors, including on ways of referring complaints to appropriate law enforcement agencies; (2) in response to a request about a particular entity or individual, to provide publicly available information on any record of civil or criminal law enforcement action for such fraud; and (3) to maintain a website as a resource for such individuals on those kinds of fraud.
- Direct the Attorney General (DOJ) to establish and administer a competitive grant program for mail, telemarketing, and Internet fraud prevention education programs for senior citizens.
According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging and Consumer Action, while seniors 60 and older make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for roughly 30 percent of fraud victims. Having saved over a lifetime for retirement, seniors are often targeted for financial scams and fraud.