Tuesday, May 21, 2013

With new legislation, Rep. Vern Buchanan targets scams against seniors

Here's the news release from his office:

U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan, R-FL, joined forces today with Democratic colleagues Ted Deutch and Peter Welch by introducing the“Seniors Fraud Prevention Act” -- legislation to crack down on scams and financial schemes targeting older Americans.  Florida is a hotbed for these types of crimes, topping all states in the percentage of seniors 60 and over.

"Seniors spend their entire lives working hard and saving so that they can retire with peace of mind," said Buchanan. "Unfortunately, an increasing number of criminals are targeting Americans over 65, the fastest growing population in our country.  With nearly 200,000 seniors living in our area of Southwest Florida, I understand that these fraud schemes threaten more than retirement accounts – they threaten the independence and trust of an already vulnerable community.  The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act is a critical step to combating fraud, protecting seniors and bringing those responsible for these unthinkable crimes to justice."
Specifically, this bipartisan legislation is designed to combat financial schemes that target our nation’s seniors, such as sweepstakes and charity scams, as well as fraudulent investment plans and Internet fraud.  The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would also establish an advisory office within the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs tasked with alerting consumers of new scams and establishing an effective complaint system to ensure that reports of fraud are quickly forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

“While financial fraud can hit anyone, in Florida we know all too well how seniors who have worked hard their entire lives to retire securely make high value targets for scam artists,” said Congressman Deutch (D-FL). “As the Baby Boomers retire and a growing number of Americans become vulnerable to schemes designed to go after their assets, the federal government must proactively alert the public of the latest threats and work closely with law enforcement to protect our seniors’ financial security.”

“Every day across this country, vulnerable seniors are being ripped off by scam artists,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).  “It’s not uncommon for their victims to lose their life’s savings.  Our bill would put a federal cop on the beat to alert seniors of fraudulent schemes and help stop these criminals in their tracks.”

According to recent estimates from the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit education organization, one in five Americans over 65 have been a victim of financial fraud.  A study by the Metlife Mature Market Institute estimates the financial loss to senior victims to total nearly $ 3 billion annually. 

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