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House passes bill to combat financial scams targeting seniors

IRS Scams

House passes bill to combat financial scams targeting seniors

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Older Americans lose an estimated $2.9 billion per year to financial scams.

The House of Representatives is moving forward with an initiative aimed at helping stem those losses.

On Wednesday, the chamber passed the Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act by a vote of 371-48.

The bipartisan measure will enable the Securities and Exchange Commission to help state enforcement agencies and task forces protect and educate seniors through the creation of a new Senior Investor Protection Grant Program.

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The bill would authorize $10 million each year so regulators can hire additional investigative staff and improve technology, training and equipment. In addition, money would also be devoted to educating seniors about financial scams.

Bipartisan companion legislation was proposed in the Senate in January by Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.; and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who sponsored the House bill, said on floor on Wednesday that he had had personal experience with these scams when his own mother was targeted by a purported IRS agent.

“Luckily, we figured out and stopped that ‘IRS agent’ in his tracks,” Gottheimer said of the fraudulent actor. “But how many others paid?”

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