On September 27, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced S.3522, a bipartisan bill aimed at training financial establishments to stop senior scams.
S.3522, known as the Senior Scams Prevention Act, would create an advisory council at the federal level to develop and distribute information and training materials to the very banks and retailers most scammers use to conduct their crimes.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative we bring industry leaders together to examine ways and propose actions American businesses can take to help educate the public, specifically senior citizens, on how to identify and avoid these harmful scams,” Senator Moran explained in an October 1 press release.
S.3522 operates under the oft-uttered advice that the best way to protect yourself from fraud is to recognize and prevent the fraud before it happens. In many cases, stopping the theft before it happens may be a victim’s only relief given the ways scammers most frequently extract money from their targets.
Among the vocal supporters of this legislation are Green Dot Corp., MoneyGram, and Western Union, prepaid debit card and wire transfer companies scammers love to use to keep their transactions with victims anonymous and irreversible. Transactions made with gift cards, prepaid debit cards, and wire transfers are as good as dealing with cash—once the scammer has the number from the card or picks up the wire transfer at the pick-up location, the victim can’t ever get his money back.
In these situations, it behooves both potential victims and companies used to commit fraud to notice the red flags before the transaction is completed. Catching these criminals is next to impossible after the money ends up in their hands.
And victims of scammers aren’t the only ones who lose. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice required Western Union to pay $586 million to victims of wire transfer scams using their services.
Not only will intensive education on blocking senior scams prevent millions of Americans from becoming victims, but it will save companies millions of dollars in investigations, refunds, and settlements.
Though these measures will benefit all Americans in the long run, S.3522 is specifically focused on protecting the most targeted and vulnerable population when it comes to scams: senior citizens.
“Far too many older Americans have been targeted by scam artists. These criminals threaten legal action against seniors or loved ones if ‘payment’ is not made immediately through a wire transfer or gift card,” said Senator Casey. “The Senior Scams Prevention Act would help stop a payment before it is ever made so that seniors don’t lose one more penny to a fraud or scam.”