Mainers have lost $140,000 to COVID-19 fraud according to the FTC
Washington, D.C.—Today, June 15th, 2020, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an annual event that raises awareness about physical, emotional, and financial harm perpetrated against seniors and promotes policies to protect older adults. U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, marked the occasion by making a renewed push to pass legislation that will help prevent the exploitation of this vulnerable population.
The rise of scams related to the pandemic have put a renewed focus on fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have reported losing nearly $60 million to COVID-19 fraud. Since January, Mainersreported 647 cases of COVID-19 fraud for a total of $140,000 in fraud losses.
“The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to a wave of scams attempting to financially exploit seniors, and stay-at-home orders can contribute to social isolation, which increases the risk of elder abuse and neglect,” said Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee. “Preventing and combatting elder abuse is one of my highest priorities. In order to protect seniors, government, law enforcement, social service agencies, the private sector, and nonprofits must work together collaboratively. Congress must take action on a bipartisan basis to stamp out the widespread abuse of seniors.”
Senator Collins has led numerous efforts in the Senate to pass legislation that would help put a stop to elder abuse.
In May, Senator Collins introduced the Promoting Alzheimer's Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act with Senators Grassley and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Their legislation would help protect seniors with dementia from harm and exploitation by ensuring that the Department of Justice’s elder abuse training materials take into account individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The bill has been endorsed by a dozen aging organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the Elder Justice Coalition, and the American Geriatrics Society.
In January, Senator Collins chaired the 25th Aging Committee hearing she has held in the past seven years to examine scams affecting older Americans. Each year, the Aging Committee releases a Fraud Book, which details the top 10 most common scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470).
Last year, Senator Collins introduced the Senior Security Act with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), which would create a task force focused on protecting seniors from financial crimes and scammers. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).