The House of Representatives recently passed U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s bipartisan Senior Security Act, legislation to help stop financial predators from scamming seniors out of their savings by creating a federal Senior Investor Taskforce within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strengthen protections and safeguards for senior investors.
Gottheimer spoke on the House floor to urge Members of the House to support his bipartisan bill, telling his colleagues that 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 is exactly what’s happening,” Gottheimer said.
Personal for Gottheimer
The Senior Security Act, cosponsored by Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Sean Casten (D-IL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Van Taylor (R-TX) and Nikema Williams (D-GA) and passed in a 355 to 69 vote, is a personal one for the North Jersey Congressman.
“Millions of seniors across the country, including my own mother, have been the victims of financial scams and they’ve been cheated out of their rightful retirement,” stated Gottheimer. “It’s appalling. It’s offensive. It’s unacceptable.”
Companion bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Preying on Seniors
According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging released last Congress, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. According to a survey from the Investor Protection Trust, approximately seven million Americans have reported being victims of exploitation. However, only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse actually get reported.
Fraudulent IRS impersonation and tech support calls are among the most common and costly scams. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, more than 2.5 million Americans have been targeted by scammers impersonating IRS officials. Since 2013, more than 15,800 taxpayers have lost at least $80 million from this type of scam alone.
Furthermore, Microsoft estimates that more than 3 million Americans are victims of technical support scams, where scammers pretend to be with a reputable tech company and persuade seniors to provide personal and bank information.
The Senior Security Act of 2021 will establish the Senior Investor Taskforce at the SEC, which will:
- Identify challenges that senior investors encounter;
- Identify areas in which senior investors would benefit from changes at the Commission or the rules of self-regulatory organizations;
- Coordinate, as appropriate, with other offices within the Commission and other taskforces that may be established within the Commission, self-regulatory organizations, and the Elder Justice Coordinating Council; and
- Consult, as appropriate, with state securities and law enforcement authorities, state insurance regulators, and other federal agencies.
The Taskforce will submit a biennial report to Congress that includes a summary of the taskforce’s findings in regard to issues, initiatives and potential changes to be made.
“I am deeply proud to work with my good friend, Mr. Gottheimer, on this important legislation to keep our senior citizens safe from fraudsters and hucksters who are constantly pursuing them,” said Hollingsworth on the House floor .
The full text of the Senior Security Act of 2021 (H.R.1565) can be found here.