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Protecting Seniors from Scammers

Mar 20 2017

Photo by Christian Langballe

By Jess Walter

New Bill to Protect Seniors from Scammers

The number of successful financial scams targeting senior citizens in the US is alarming. According to a Truelinkfinancial study, scamming the elderly has resulted in losses of over $36 billion. That is 12 times more than the $2.9 billion that was previously estimated. The FBI wrote that seniors are targeted because they are more vulnerable to promises of better cognitive and physical functioning, are unlikely to report the crime for feeling embarrassed about it, are likely to have good credit and can therefore afford to pay the scammers, and that retirees have failing memories thereby making them insubstantial witnesses. It is heart-breaking, which is part of the reason why New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is preparing a bill to report the elderly from being scammed online.

Common Scams

Some the scams targeted at senior citizens include anti-aging product scams where the senior orders a product that either never comes or doesn’t work. Quite typically, investment fraud scams also exist where the senior is persuaded to invest a small amount then is continuously asked to put in more capital.

Fake prescription drugs scams are also on the rise, promising more affordable drugs. One of the most devastating scams is the Medicare and health insurance scam in which seniors are tricked into paying premiums to fake insurance companies, or are misled into buying legitimate insurance that is too expensive. Knowledge on how insurance works for seniors is invaluable.

The Senior Financial Empowerment Act

Americans 65 and older were brought up when society could be trusted. They are, as a result, susceptible to people who exploit their vulnerability. In New York alone, there have been losses in upwards of $1.6 million, according to Senator Gillibrand.

The Senior Financial Empowerment Act is not entirely new. There have been legislative efforts to curb this despicable practice of stealing from retirees since 2012. Over the years, several versions of the bill have been written but it has never been passed into a law. Senator Gillibrand has expounded on the existing content and made a draft law that fits the current environment. The aim is to compel legislators in the Senate to finally approve the bill into a law so that seniors in New York, and other areas, can finally have some reprieve from the scammers.

Support for the New Bill

Senator Gillibrand’s efforts have been recognized by some of the most influential people in New York. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that he shares the Senator’s concerns about the elderly losing their money to cons. Support was expressed by Diane Benczkowski, a supervisor at the Cheektowaga Senior Center where Senator Gillibrand announced her new act.

In the coming weeks, it is expected that the bill will be debated and hopefully adopted as law.