By Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5)
It’s always heartbreaking to hear firsthand about how fraudsters and scammers have gone after your hard-earned savings. No senior should ever have to worry that picking up the phone could mean being scammed out of thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, for too many members of our communities, that’s exactly what is happening, and it’s something that I hear about far too often. Millions of seniors across the country, including my own mother, have been the victims of financial scams and they are being cheated out of their rightful retirement.
According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging released this year, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. It’s appalling. It’s offensive. It’s unacceptable. And I’m working to do something about it.
The House recently voted to pass my bipartisan Senior Security Act, which takes senior fraud and scams head on and will help the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and, federal prosecutors, crack down on these senior-preying criminals. I introduced this bill with Republican Congressman Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana.
Firstly, the Senior Security Act will create a Senior Investor Taskforce at the SEC that will exclusively focus on how seniors are being targeted by fraudsters and those who seek to take financial advantage of them. This new Taskforce will identify challenges that senior investors encounter and will identify areas within the SEC or other organizations where senior investors would benefit from changes. The Senior Investor Taskforce will also coordinate with other offices within the Commission and the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. When appropriate, the Taskforce will consult state securities and law enforcement and state insurance regulators to ensure we’re all doing as much as we can, at every level of government, to stop this.
Second, every two years, the Taskforce will submit a report to Congress outlining trends and innovations that are impacting the investment for senior investors. This will keep a cop on the beat to make sure we keep up with changes in financial scams. The report will also include recommendations for changes to rules of the SEC or other organizations, and any legislative actions needed to resolve senior investors’ problems.
Companion, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. I’m incredibly thankful for their leadership on this issue in the Senate and I hope our bill is brought to a vote there soon, so it can head to the President’s desk.
In today’s environment, working together — whether that’s across the aisle, across the country, or across generations — is the only way to keep our communities safe. That spirit and attitude is what America is all about, in the greatest country in the world, and that’s thanks, in no small part, to the many accomplishments of our seniors.
I’ll always have the backs of our seniors, and I will ensure you all have the help you need and to protect against those who seek to take advantage of you. We all know this is going to take a fight. I’m hopeful that, with the Senior Security Act, we will help create real and lasting change, and I will be here, fighting by your side, every step of the way.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.