By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan legislative language, co-sponsored and led by U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D., to protect older Americans from COVID-19-related scams.
"During the COVID crisis, it looked like the number of scams were just picking up," Marshall said. "People stealing Social Security numbers, applying for unemployment. We reached out and tried to figure out, what can we do to help the situation? From that, we wrote some legislation that gets the FTC a little bit more involved, promoting to, especially senior citizens, what the scams are out there, what they look like, what to be on alert for and who to report them to."
Originally introduced as the bipartisan Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act, the legislation was included in the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act (H.R. 2610).
"It makes me heartsick to see seniors being taken advantage of," Marshall said. "They do have big, open hearts, trying to help people out. But, I would just be very leery today of anybody calling up and asking you for money, to invest in something, unsolicited. With people like that, it just typically ends up in a bad situation."
The legislation directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make digital resources available for older Americans and caregivers on the nature of scams in their geographic area and provides connections to law enforcement. The legislation also requires the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the number and types of scams targeting seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.