[Senate Report 116-182]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


                                                      Calendar No. 393
                                                      
116th Congress   }                                            {   Report                       
                               SENATE 
                                                      
1st Session      }                                            {   116-182
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       



                         STOP SENIOR SCAMS ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                 S. 149




               December 19, 2019.--Ordered to be printed 
               
               
               
                            ______

              U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 
 99-010                  WASHINGTON : 2019
 
 
 
              
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
       
                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                     
                             first session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
RICK SCOTT, Florida
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director
               
               
               

                                                       Calendar No. 393 
                                                       
                                                       
116th Congress  }                                              {   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session    }                                              {  116-182

======================================================================



 
                         STOP SENIOR SCAMS ACT

                                _______
                                

               December 19, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 149]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 149) to establish a Senior 
Scams Prevention Advisory Council, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    S. 149 would establish a Federal advisory group called the 
Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Council (Advisory Council) 
that would charge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with 
bringing together relevant government officials, industry 
representatives, and advocates to collect and develop 
educational materials for retailers, financial institutions, 
and wire-transfer companies to use in preventing scams that 
affect seniors.

                          Background and Needs

    Seniors, aged 65 years and older, number over 43 million 
and are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.\1\ 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that older 
Americans are less likely to report fraud because they are 
embarrassed, don't know who to report it to, or don't know that 
they have been defrauded.\2\ The average higher net worth of 
older Americans makes them attractive targets for criminals.\3\ 
Fraud aimed at seniors ranges from Medicare medical device 
fraud, where the elderly are prescribed unneeded devices, to 
grandparent schemes, where fraudsters call a senior and pretend 
to be their grandchild in need of wired emergency funds to bail 
them out of jail or some other dire situation.\4\ Statistics 
measuring the financial cost of fraud targeting seniors range 
from $2.9 billion to $12.46 billion.\5\
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    \1\The U.S. Census Bureau projects the senior population in 2050 to 
be 83.7 million, almost double the estimated population in 2012. The 
Bureau also estimates that by 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population 
will be over age 65, compared to 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 
1970. Jennifer Ortman, Victoria Velkoff, and Howard Hogan, An Aging 
Nation: The Older Population in the United States, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, Census Bureau, 2014, P25-1140 (https://www.census.gov/
content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p25-1140.pdf) 
(accessed September 4, 2019).
    \2\``Common Fraud Schemes: Fraud Against Seniors,'' Scams and 
Safety, U.S. Department of Justice, FBI (https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-
safety/common-fraud-schemes/seniors) (accessed September 4, 2019).
    \3\In 2015, the median net worth for households headed by seniors 
was approximately $201,500. (The cited table has been moved or is no 
longer available on the U.S. Census Bureau's website.) ``Wealth, Asset 
Ownership, & Debt of Households: 2015,'' Explore Data, Tables, Income 
and Poverty, U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau (https://
www.census.gov/
programs-surveys/demo/tables/wealth/2015/wealth-asset-ownership/
wealth_tables_cy2015.xlsx) (accessed June 28, 2019).
    \4\Stacey Colino, ``Don't Fall Victim to the Grandparents Scam,'' 
Scams and Fraud, 
AARP, April 18, 2018 (https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/
grandparent-scam-
scenarios.html).
    \5\True Link Financial Services. ``The True Link Report on Elder 
Financial Abuse 2015.'' San Francisco, CA: True link Financial 
Advisors, 2015.
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    In the past few years fraudsters have begun to increasingly 
request that payment come in the form of gift or money reload 
cards, specifically by requiring that the senior victim provide 
the fraudster with the personal identification number (PIN) off 
the back of the gift or money reload card.\6\ By obtaining the 
PIN, scammers can immediately get the money that has been 
loaded onto the card.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Emma Fletcher, ``Scammers increasingly demand payment by gift 
card,'' Enforcement, Data and Visualizations, FTC, October 16, 2018 
(https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/data-
spotlight/2018/10/scammers-increasingly-demand-payment-gift-card).
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    The FTC has taken steps to research and create a report on 
the amount of losses attributed to this type of scam, finding 
there were $40 million in losses through gift and money reload 
card scams in 2017.\7\ Specifically, the FTC noted that 
fraudsters are directing their victims to purchase gift or 
money reload cards from well-known retailers like Walmart, 
Target, Walgreens, and Apple iTunes.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\Id. FTC, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017 (https://
www.ftc.gov/system/files/
documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-2017/
consumer_sentinel_data_book_
2017.pdf) (accessed September 4, 2019).
    \8\Tamara Lytle, ``Give Gift Cards to Friends and Family--Not 
Fraudsters,'' AARP, November 7, 2019 (http:///www.aarp.org/money/scams-
fraud/info-2019/prevent-gift-card-fraud.html) (accessed December 12, 
2019).
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    Some companies have begun to take measures to prevent gift 
or money reload card scams on seniors and others. For example, 
Walmart has put policies in place to help guard against this 
type of fraud by training store associates to be aware of the 
ongoing scam.\9\
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    \9\Julie Watts, ``Retailers' Efforts to Stop Gift Card Scams Often 
Fall Short,'' News, Consumer, CBS San Francisco, April 29, 2018 (http:/
/sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/04/29/could-stores-gift-card-imposter-
scams/).
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    The FTC has an ongoing consumer education campaign called 
Pass It On, an initiative to educate seniors and organizations 
about common fraud schemes.\10\ Pass It On helps seniors avoid 
common scams by encouraging older adults to talk to their 
family, friends, and neighbors about fraudulent schemes.\11\ 
Since launching Pass It On in July 2014, the FTC has received 
requests for more than 250,000 copies of the materials from 
organizations in 49 States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\FTC, ``Pass It On,'' Consumer Information (https://www.ftc.gov/
PassItOn) (accessed September 4, 2019).
    \11\FTC, ``Pass It On: New FTC Education Campaign Encourages Older 
Consumers to Share Their Knowledge to Help Fight Fraud,'' News and 
Events, Bureau of Consumer Protection, February 25, 2015 (https://
www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/09/pass-it-new-ftc-
education-campaign-encourages-older-consumers).
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    Additionally, the FTC partners with organizations such as 
the AARP to provide education and counseling to seniors that 
have been affected by fraud. Through this program, the FTC 
refers consumers over the age of 60 who have called the FTC's 
Consumer Response Center with complaints about fraud, to peer 
counselors that provide support to those who have been 
targeted.
    The FTC also participates in the Elder Justice Coordinating 
Council (Council), an organization composed of 12 Federal 
agencies that meet regularly to coordinate activities related 
to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.\12\ Every 2 years, 
the Council provides a report to Congress with recommendations 
on how to best address these abuses. The Council's most recent 
report contained eight recommendations for increased Federal 
involvement in addressing these issues, including a 
recommendation that agencies develop public awareness campaigns 
to assist in preventing elder abuse, including fraud targeting 
older Americans.\13\
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    \12\The Elder Justice Coordinating Council is chaired by the 
Department of Health and Human Services and its membership includes the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Corporation for National and 
Community Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security 
Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of 
Housing and Urban Development, the Department of the Interior, the 
Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of the 
Treasury, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Postal Inspection 
Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. See Elder Justice 
Coordinating Council Membership List. Elder Justice Coordinating 
Council, Membership List (Administration for Community Living) (https:/
/acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2019-03/
3.%20EJCC_Member_List.docx) (accessed September 4, 2019).
    \13\Elder Justice Coordinating Council, Eight (8) Recommendations 
for Increased Federal Involvement in Addressing Elder Abuse, Neglect, 
and Exploitation (Administration for Community Living, 2014) (https://
acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2016-09/Eight_Recommendations_
for_Increased_Federal_Involvement.pdf) (accessed May 2014).
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                         Summary of Provisions

    S. 149 would establish a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory 
Council (Advisory Council). The membership of the Advisory 
Council would include representatives of the FTC, the 
Department of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau, industry sectors including retail, 
telecommunications, and financial services, consumer and senior 
advocacy groups, and other interested entities. The Advisory 
Council would be tasked with studying existing and creating new 
educational materials to guide businesses and employees in 
identifying and preventing scams that effect seniors. The 
Chairman of the FTC would make such materials publicly 
available and encourage their use and distribution.

                          Legislative History

    S. 149 was introduced on January 16, 2019, by Senator Casey 
(for himself and Senator Moran) and was referred to the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate. Senator Tester is an additional cosponsor. On July 10, 
2019, the Committee met in open Executive Session and, by voice 
vote, ordered the bill reported favorably with an amendment (in 
the nature of a substitute).
    In the 115th Congress, a substantially similar bill, S. 
3522, the Senior Scams Prevention Act, was introduced on 
September 27, 2018, by Senator Casey (for himself and Senator 
Moran) and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
and Transportation of the Senate. No action was taken on S. 
3522 by the Committee.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:





    S. 149 would establish an interagency advisory group, led 
by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to study strategies to 
prevent financial retailers, financial services companies, and 
wire transfer companies from perpetrating fraud on senior 
citizens. The group would consult with industry leaders, trade 
associations, and nonprofit organizations to identify best 
practices and create model materials that industry and 
government agencies could use to decrease such fraud. The FTC 
would report to the Congress each year on the group's 
activities. The advisory group would disband five years after 
enactment.
    Using information from some of the affected agencies, CBO 
estimates that convening the advisory group would cost $1 
million over the 2019-2024 period. Such spending would be 
subject to the availability of appropriated funds and would 
cover administrative costs incurred by member agencies--
including the FTC, the Department of the Treasury, the 
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Department of 
Justice--that are funded through discretionary appropriations.
    Enacting the bill would increase direct spending by the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal 
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and also would reduce 
revenues from the Federal Reserve.
    Using information from those agencies, CBO estimates the 
following budgetary effects:
           The CFBP would spend less than $500,000 over 
        five years to participate in the advisory group,
           Net spending by the FDCI would be negligible 
        because the FDIC is authorized to collect premiums from 
        the financial institutions it regulates to offset its 
        costs, and
           Costs incurred by the Federal Reserve would 
        reduce remittances to the Treasury, which are recorded 
        in the budget at revenues, by less than $500,000 over 
        the 2020-2024 period.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is David Hughes. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    The bill does not authorize any new regulations and would 
not subject any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            economic impact

    S. 149, as reported, is not expected to have a negative 
economic impact.

                                privacy

    The reported bill would have no impact on the personal 
privacy of individuals.

                               paperwork

    This bill would require the FTC to release a report with 
materials and recommendations made by the advisory council to 
reduce scams targeted against seniors and to also release any 
gathered information not included in the report.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Stop Senior Scams Act''.

Section 2. Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group

    This section would establish the Senior Scams Prevention 
Advisory Group (Advisory Group) composed of: the Chairman of 
the FTC, the Secretary of Treasury, the Attorney General, the 
Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a 
member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 
a prudential regulator (as defined in 12 U.S.C. 5481), the 
Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and any 
other agency or entity as determined by the Chairman of the 
FTC.
    Additionally, the Chairman of the FTC is required to select 
representatives from the following: (1) retail, (2) gift card, 
(3) telecommunications, (4) wire-transfer services, (5) senior 
peer advocates, (6) consumer advocacy organizations, (7) 
financial services, (8) and prepaid cards. The Chairman of the 
FTC would also have the authority to appoint any other Federal, 
State, or local agency, industry representative, consumer 
advocate, or entity, as appropriate.
    This section also would require the Advisory Group to do 
the following: (1) collect information on the existence and use 
of such materials; (2) examine ways that retailers, financial 
institutions, and wire-transfer companies can better educate 
the public on senior scams; (3) and create model materials, 
best practices guidance, and recommendations for these 
businesses to help protect seniors from scams.
    The bill also requires the FTC to make such guidance and 
model materials publicly available. Under the bill, the 
advisory group would expire after 5 years.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

               ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION ACT


                        [34 U.S.C. 21711(c)(2)]



       TITLE I--SUPPORTING FEDERAL CASES INVOLVING ELDER JUSTICE

SEC. 101. SUPPORTING FEDERAL CASES INVOLVING ELDER JUSTICE.

  (a) * * *
  (c) Federal Trade Commission.--
          (1) Federal trade commission elder justice 
        coordinator.--Not later than 60 days after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, the Chairman of the Federal 
        Trade Commission shall designate within the Bureau of 
        Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission an 
        Elder Justice Coordinator who, in addition to any other 
        responsibilities, shall be responsible for--
                  (A) coordinating and supporting the 
                enforcement and consumer education efforts and 
                policy activities of the Federal Trade 
                Commission on elder justice issues; and
                  (B) serving as, or ensuring the availability 
                of, a central point of contact for individuals, 
                units of local government, States, and other 
                Federal agencies on matters relating to the 
                enforcement and consumer education efforts and 
                policy activities of the Federal Trade 
                Commission on elder justice issues.
          (2) Reports to congress.--Not later than 1 year after 
        the date of enactment of this Act, and once every year 
        thereafter, the Chairman of the Federal Trade 
        Commission and the Attorney General shall each submit 
        to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the 
        Committee on the Judiciary of the House of 
        Representatives a report detailing the enforcement 
        actions taken by the Federal Trade Commission and the 
        Department of Justice, respectively, over the preceding 
        year in each case in which not less than one victim was 
        an elder or that involved a financial scheme or scam 
        that was either targeted directly toward or largely 
        affected elders, including--
                  (A) the name of the district where the case 
                originated;
                  (B) the style of the case, including the case 
                name and number;
                  (C) a description of the scheme or scam; 
                [and]
                  (D) the outcome of the case[.]; and
                  (E) for the Federal Trade Commission, in 
                relevant years, information on--
                          (i) the newly created materials, 
                        guidance, or recommendations of the 
                        Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group 
                        established under section 2 of the Stop 
                        Senior Scams Act, and any relevant 
                        views or considerations made by members 
                        of the Advisory Group that were not 
                        included in the Advisory Group's model 
                        materials or considered an official 
                        recommendation by the Advisory Group;
                          (ii) the Senior Scams Prevention 
                        Advisory Group's findings about senior 
                        scams and industry educational 
                        materials and programs; and
                          (iii) any recommendations on ways 
                        stakeholders can continue to work 
                        together to reduce scams affecting 
                        seniors.
  (d) Use of Appropriated Funds.--No additional funds are 
authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *