The fight against senior scams

Newton. The Senior Security Act will create a Task Force to help keep seniors safe fro financial scams.

Oct 06 2019 | 02:00 PM

    U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) questioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman and Commissioners during a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing and secured the SEC’s support for his bipartisan bill, the Senior Security Act, to help stop senior scams. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in late April, by a vote of 392 to 20, and will create a Senior Investor Task Force at the SEC to help stop financial scammers from targeting seniors and to strengthen protections and safeguards for senior investors. The SEC Chairman stated his support for Gottheimer’s efforts to protect seniors in North Jersey and nationwide.

    Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate, by U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee.

    “Chairman Clayton, millions of seniors across the country, including my own mother, have been the victims of financial scams and they’ve been cheated out of their rightful retirements. Do you agree that we should be doing everything possible to prevent our seniors from being robbed of their life’s savings? Can you commit that you’d be happy having the Senior Investor Task Force report to you, like other task forces do?” Congressman Gottheimer asked the SEC Chairman and Commissioners.

    “Yes,” responded SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. “That kind of engagement is important to our work.”

    “I think your focus and leadership on this issue is enormously important and I have watched as the Chairman and his very able enforcement co-directors have worked through many of these cases. We seen these victims, Congressman, you are right, that we need to do all we can to protect them and I doubt there’s any disagreement among us on that subject,” said SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson.

    “I think we’re all committed to doing what we can to protect older investors, and the problems associated with that only become more intense as the years go by, as people are living longer and as capacity issues come up. So, there are a lot of complicated issues and I think a task force to think about this could be helpful to us and as we think about these issues as well,” said SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce.

    “I’m not going to stop until we get this bill signed into law. Hopefully we can work together to encourage the Senate to vote on the Senior Security Act and get this signed into law. I know Mr. Hollingsworth and I, and many members of the committee would be very grateful,” Gottheimer concluded.

    According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging released this year, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. A separate survey from the Investor Protection Trust found that approximately 7 million Americans have reported being victims of exploitation, but only 1 in every 24 cases of elder exploitation actually gets reported.

    Testifying at this Financial Services Committee’s hearing were SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and all four SEC Commissioners Robert J. Jackson Jr., Hester M. Peirce, Elad L. Roisman, and Allison Herren Lee.