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TMCNet:  Baldwin Targets Senior Financial Fraud

[June 26, 2009]

Baldwin Targets Senior Financial Fraud

Jun 26, 2009 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC) today introduced the Senior Financial Empowerment Act of 2009 (H.R. 3040). The legislation will help stop abusive mail, telemarketing and Internet fraud targeting seniors.

"I became aware of the seriousness and scope of fraud targeting seniors when I helped my own grandmother in her later years," said Congresswoman Baldwin. "These crimes can have severe financial and emotional consequences for older Americans and their families. Our bill will educate the public, seniors, their families, and their caregivers on how to identify and combat fraudulent activity," Baldwin said.

"My parents lived into their 90s, and there were times that I was aware that they were being targeted by less-than-honest telemarketers," said Congressman Coble. "All of us must be vigilant to make sure that senior citizens do not fall prey to these unscrupulous operators. I am hopeful that the Baldwin-Coble bill will go a long way to providing the public with additional information to protect the elderly," Coble said.

Although it is difficult to estimate the prevalence of fraud targeting seniors due to severe under-reporting, millions of senior Americans have fallen victims to financial exploitation, including mail, telemarketing and Internet fraud. According to a 2009 report by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the annual financial loss by victims of senior financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion. In 2007, postal inspectors investigated almost 3,000 mail fraud cases in the U.S. and arrested more than 1,200 mail fraud suspects. Further, the FBI has confirmed that criminals are modifying their targeting techniques to include online scams such as "phishing" and e-mail spamming.

The Senior Financial Empowerment Act of 2009 will promote efforts to increase public awareness of the enormous impact that mail, telemarketing and Internet fraud have on seniors.

"The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) estimates that 1.7 million seniors will be the victims of financial exploitation in 2009 (35,000 in Wisconsin alone)," said John Hendrick, Attorney, CWAG Elder Financial Empowerment Project. "We applaud this legislation introduced by Reps. Baldwin and Coble and urge quick passage, because we need the tools to stop this epidemic," Hendrick said.

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