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Politics

Senior Fraud Bill From Vern Buchanan and Ted Deutch Gets Momentum in the Senate

August 14, 2013 - 6:00pm

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., announced Thursday two unlikely allies will be the Senate sponsors of his bill battling fraud against seniors. In May Buchanan teamed up with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., to introduce the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, which increases the monitoring and response systems for when seniors are damaged by fraud.

Buchanan announced that U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will sponsor the bill in the Senate. The last New England Republican sitting in the Capitol, Collins is generally perceived as the most liberal member of the GOP Senate caucus. Klobuchar is a liberal Democrat and possible dark-horse candidate for her partys presidential nomination in 2016.

I am thrilled to be working with Senator Klobuchar and Senator Collins in cracking down on fraud against our seniors, said Buchanan on Thursday. These crimes threaten more than just retirement accounts they threaten the independence and trust of an already vulnerable community.

Buchanans bill would ensure the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), works with other federal bodies to monitor fraud directed against seniors. It would also add an advisory team in the federal Bureau of Consumer Protection working on senior fraud issues. The bill has won the support of both the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Elder Justice Coalition.

Both Senate sponsors insisted the bill would greatly aid seniors who are often the target of telemarketing fraud and other scams.

Too often seniors can have their entire life savings snatched up in scams specifically designed to target their assets, Klobuchar said. This bill will give seniors and their families the tools they need to avoid scams before they happen, and will also help make sure that when a complaint is filed, it gets into the right hands so it can be addressed swiftly and effectively.

Our bill would help protect seniors from fraud by establishing an advisory office within the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Collins said. This office would be responsible for increasing oversight, consumer education, and establishing a complaint tracking system focused on scams that target our seniors.

Estimates show that fraud against senior citizens can cost more than $40 billion a year.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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