Photo Courtesy of The Wing
Sen. Gillibrand last weekend introduced the Senior Financial Empowerment Act.
By Forum Staff
Every year, it is estimated that tens of thousands of New York seniors are victims of scams and abuse, according to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who held a roundtable meeting with Empire State senior citizens on Sunday and unveiled new legislation to protect the vulnerable population from financial fraud.
The Senior Financial Empowerment Act would, according to Gillibrand, ensure that seniors and their caregivers have access to critical information regarding financial abuse. The bill would standardize and improve the way senior financial abuse is reported, establish a national hotline that would advise seniors on where and how to report fraud, and provide more resources to combat financial exploitation of seniors before it happens, Gillibrand said.
“Senior fraud is a destructive and dangerous crime, in which scammers prey on vulnerable citizens, steal their personal information, and harm them financially with very few consequences,” she added. “Under the current system, when seniors report these crimes, the information often isn’t shared with the proper authorities, and scammers are able to continue committing these crimes against other seniors. We need to do everything we can to prevent and fight back against senior fraud. This new legislation would give seniors the resources they need to be educated about this crime and the tools they need to get help if they have been a victim of fraud.”
According to Gillibrand, the SFEA would help protect New York seniors from financial fraud by:
- Centralizing services for consumer education and data on scams and fraud targeting seniors;
- Improving reporting of suspected instances of elder financial abuse;
- Educating certain entities regarding elder financial abuse;
- Creating a grant program to prevent mail, telemarketing, and internet fraud;
- Directing the National Institutes of Health to conduct scientific research on older adults’ increased vulnerability to scams;
- Designating a National Senior Fraud Awareness Week.
AARP commended Gillibrand for addressing “the already serious problem of elder financial exploitation – which will only get worse as our population ages unless we confront it. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day and older Americans having worked a lifetime to accumulate assets they depend on, AARP looks forward to working with Senator Gillibrand and our other elected officials on bi-partisan solutions that help protect older New Yorkers and Americans from an often invisible but insidious and growing scourge,” said the group’s New York State Director Beth Finkel.
Other senior advocacy groups applauded New York’s junior senator for tackling the problem of senior fraud and scams.
“Socioeconomic conditions are one of the broader determinants of healthy and active aging, and financial exploitation can be a significant risk to the wellbeing of all older people, especially those on a fixed income” said New York Academy of Medicine President Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D. “The New York Academy of Medicine, which works to promote healthy and active aging, supports the Senior Financial Empowerment Act because it leverages a multi-pronged approach involving older citizens themselves in creating solutions and creates strong mechanisms to discover and respond to fraud and abuse. We believe this act will help to maintain the financial security and improve the wellbeing of older citizens.”
Gillibrand indicated that she plans to introduce this new legislation in the Senate “in the coming days.”