Tester Moves to Crack Down on Scams Against Montana Seniors

Stop Senior Scams Act would help prevent fraud, financial loss for elderly

With reports that one in four older Americans contacted by scammers in 2018 sent money, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is backing a bill aimed at curbing the growing number of scams perpetrated against seniors.

The bill would establish a Senior Scam Prevention Advisory Council, made up of representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Treasury, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Federal Reserve System. The Council would also include representatives from the private sector and consumer and senior advocacy organizations, and be charged with developing guidance and educational materials for retailers and financial services companies to help them stop consumers from being scammed.

“Fraudsters continue finding new ways to scam Montana’s seniors – and the data shows these crimes are on the rise,” Tester said. “So it’s more urgent than ever that we act, and this bill is a critical start—giving the federal government and industry more tools to combat fraud and make sure seniors keep their money in their pockets.”

The Federal Trade Commission says one in four seniors who were contacted by scammers sent money in 2018, an alarming rise compared to one in 14 in 2017. The Government Accountability Office estimates these scams cost seniors $2.9 billion annually, with the average senior losing about $9,000.

Tester is also a cosponsor of the Senior Fraud Prevention Act, which would direct the Federal Trade Commission to establish a fraud prevention office, educate seniors about fraud, and maintain reporting systems to help law enforcement find and prosecute scammers. A relentless champion for Montana seniors, Tester is fighting to ensure they have access to critical entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. He recently sponsored the Mental Health Access Improvement Act to give seniors expanded access to mental health services, and also authored a bipartisan bill to make Medicare Part D more transparent and lower costs for seniors taking prescription drugs.