Klobuchar, Moran introduce bill to protect senior citizens from scams, fraud amid coronavirus

EXCLUSIVE: Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Jerry Moran introduced a bipartisan measure Thursday that would protect senior citizens from scams during the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.

The bill, titled “The Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act,” which the senators are expected to roll out on Thursday, would direct the Federal Trade Commission to report to Congress on scams targeting seniors during the coronavirus pandemic and make recommendations on how to prevent future scams during emergencies.

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The bill also directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update its website with information to help seniors and their caregivers to access contacts for law enforcement and adult protective agency. Under the legislation, the FTC would coordinate with the media to distribute the information in an effort to ensure seniors and their caregivers are informed.

“We must ensure that seniors are not being taken advantage of during the coronavirus pandemic. All Americans deserve safety and dignity in their senior years, yet new fraudulent schemes designed to target seniors appear almost daily,” Klobuchar, D-Minn., in a statement to Fox News. “This bipartisan legislation will help protect seniors from fraud during this public health crisis and help prevent emergency-related scams in the future.”

Moran, in a statement to Fox News, said that each year, “scam artists” targeting senior citizens result in financial losses between $2 billion and $12 billion.

“Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these scammers are using fear and uncertainty to take advantage of our vulnerable populations,” Moran, R-Kansas, said.

Klobuchar’s office told Fox News Thursday that the legislation has been endorsed by AARP, the Elder Justice Coalition, the American Society on Aging, and the National Adult Protective Services Association.

They also said that the senator, and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate “has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers from fraud and support seniors during the coronavirus pandemic."

Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Moran led a bipartisan group of senators in urging FTC Chairman Joseph Simons to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams, better inform consumers about the scams, and assist victims in understanding their recourse options to protect seniors from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic.

Klobuchar also, earlier this month, in coordination with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., further expressed concerns to Simon about the increase in scams targeting small businesses.

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Meanwhile, last year the Justice Department announced its largest-ever nationwide crackdown on schemes that “prey upon our senior citizens,.”

Last year, the Justice Department, in a joint effort with the FBI, announced it charged more than 225 individuals in connection with fraudulent schemes targeting Americans ages 60 and older, which collected more than three-quarters of a billion dollars and involved more than 2 million victims.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show more than 80 percent of those dying of the virus are over 65 years old. The CDC on its website reports 68,998 total deaths in the U.S. as of May 16, with 55,651 of those deaths, or 80.6 percent, covering people over 65 years old.

The CDC's official count is lower than the actual number of American coronavirus deaths, which is now upward of 90,000, "because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes."

The agency's reporting underscores prior warnings that the coronavirus generally hits the elderly the hardest.