James battles fraud against seniors

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James.
Associated Press / Richard Drew

New York Attorney General, Letitia James on Tuesday, June 1 continued her efforts to protect senior citizens in New York against fraud.

James co-led a bipartisan coalition of 47 attorneys general in sending a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to pass the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act.

The act — comprising the Stop Senior Scam Act and Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2021 — will assist stakeholders in training employees to recognize the warning signs of elder fraud and to prevent irreversible damage to elderly victims, James said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly opened up senior citizens to a new array of fraudulent schemes to steal their money, their identities, and, very often, the freedoms they enjoy,” she said. “It is vital that we make every effort to protect the elderly against fraud and irreversible harm, which is why our bipartisan coalition is calling on Congress to immediately pass the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act.

“We must protect the elderly and ensure we minimize the opportunities for them to become victims in the future,” James added.

She said the bipartisan legislation will provide innovative ways to combat the financial exploitation of senior citizens, like establishing the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group that will be accountable to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

James said the group will collect data generated by stakeholders — such as retailers, financial services, and wire-transfer companies — to help educate employees on how to identify and prevent scams that target seniors.

She said the group will develop training and educational materials for those employees best suited to identify the warning signs of elder fraud.

The act also establishes the Office for the Prevention of Fraud Targeting Seniors — housed in the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the FTC, the New York Attorney General said.

She said the office will complement the efforts of the Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group by: Monitoring emerging scams that target seniors through the internet, mail, robocalls, telemarketing and television;

disseminating information on common fraud schemes; and sharing information on how to report suspected senior fraud scams to a national fraud hotline and the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.

James said the FTC will also work with the US Department of Justice to log and track complaints from victims, and relay the information to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Joining Attorney General James in sending Tuesday’s letter to Congress were the attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

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