TAMPA, Fla. — The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation introduced by two congressmen from Florida in an effort to crack down on fraud targeting older Americans.
The bill now awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
Reps. Vern Buchanan (R) and Ted Deutch (D) were behind the Seniors Fraud Protection Act, in part, because Florida has the highest percentage of people 60 and older in the nation. Buchanan's office said the state had become "a hotbed" for crimes targeting seniors.
“Seniors have worked their entire lives with the promise of a safe and secure retirement," Buchanan said in a news release. "Scams targeting the elderly are growing at a disturbing rate and threaten more than retirement accounts – they imperil the independence and trust of an already vulnerable community.”
The bill targets common scams against older people, including sweepstakes and charity schemes. It also targets online fraud and bogus investment plans.
The legislation has been endorsed by AARP, which said scams against seniors have only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the legislation would create an advisory office in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs. The office would be tasked with keeping consumers updated about new scams.
“Passing this bill into law is a big step forward to protecting seniors and combating fraud,” Buchanan added.
Deutch and Buchanan have introduced the bill in the last three Congresses. Senators Susan Collins (R- ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the Senate.
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