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AARP Fighting for You Against Fraud


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Consumer fraud is soaring. Reported losses to fraud skyrocketed to $8.8 billion in 2022, an increase of more than 30 percent from a year earlier, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency. Because fraud is underreported, we know that actual losses are much higher. 

While education empowers older Americans to protect themselves, more is needed to eliminate this large-scale problem. That’s why AARP advocates for laws and regulations at the state and federal levels to protect adults age 50 and older. AARP has supported bipartisan legislation to strengthen consumer protections against scams, including bills that combat caller ID spoofing and illegal robocalls

  • AARP successfully advocated for the passage, in March 2022, of the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act. The act bolsters the FTC’s prevention efforts and response to violations affecting older Americans.

In particular, the act established a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group — high-level federal government officials and representatives from the retail, gift card, telecommunications, wire transfer and financial services sectors of the economy. AARP has a few seats at the table. 

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Additionally, the act directs the FTC to create an office to focus on fraud aimed at older adults. The office will highlight how to report scams to the FTC and make reported cases immediately available to the FBI, state attorneys general and other law enforcement agencies. 

  • AARP has endorsed the Veterans Protection from Fraud Act by Rep. Tim Burchett. This legislation would help fight against fraud targeting our nation’s veterans and their families by enhancing the criminal penalties for committing email or telemarketing fraud against veterans.
  • AARP has endorsed the bipartisan Senior Security Act of 2023. The legislation by U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Susan Collins and Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Ann Wagner would help combat financial exploitation of older Americans by creating an interdivisional task force at the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine and identify challenges that seniors face while investing. It would also require the Government Accountability Office to study and report on the economic costs of the financial abuse of seniors.

AARP also has been successful in winning approval for stricter consumer protections at the state level, including:

Multiple states: Protecting against real estate scams (MV Realty)

Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah have enacted legislation protecting homeowners from the predatory practice of unfair real estate service agreements. Unscrupulous real estate brokers misled homeowners into signing decades-long agreements that give them the exclusive right to sell their homes. The bills enacted in these states are based on a model bill designed by AARP and other national stakeholders. It prohibits service agreements of more than one year, makes these agreements non-recordable in the deed or property record, and blocks liens or encumbrances associated with the land. It also prohibits locking homeowners into exclusive long-term real estate listing agreements and imposes penalties on brokers who do so. Samar Jha, governmental affairs director for AARP, worked on the development of the model bill and assisted the state offices. (Learn more on this episode of AARP’s The Perfect Scam podcast.)

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.

New York and Rhode Island: Gift card scam alerts

New York and Rhode Island created laws requiring businesses selling gift cards to post a notice alerting customers about gift card scams. This bill is an important step in bolstering efforts to curtail gift card scams and to reduce this source of criminal money transfer by educating consumers about the issue, helping them to identify potential warning signs, and encouraging reporting when residents are targeted by scammers.

Utah: Expanded funding for elder abuse investigations

AARP Utah has worked for several years to expand state funding for Adult Protective Services, lobbying division-level staff, advisers in the governor’s office and appropriations committee members, and providing supportive testimony for expanding the funding. In response, Utah recently granted an additional $317,500 to investigate cases of fraud, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable older adults. Utah’s investigators have been experiencing significant growth in their caseloads, and with this new assistance they will be able to give these cases more of the attention they deserve.

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Wyoming: Allowing suspicious transactions to be held

Wyoming passed a bill that protects banks and other financial institutions from being sued for briefly freezing a vulnerable adult’s assets if they believe that person is being exploited. The bill creates a requirement for financial institutions to file a report with Adult Protective Services and law enforcement within five days of a suspected fraud against a vulnerable adult.

Oklahoma: Increased consumer protections against impostor scams

The governor of Oklahoma recently signed into law a bill supported by AARP Oklahoma that increases protections against government impostor scams by prohibiting misrepresentation of a state agency or affiliate through advertisement or publication. Many Oklahomans have lost hundreds of dollars responding to such “official” solicitations.  

Restitution for victims

AARP is also pursuing state legislation — a consumer fraud restitution fund — that would provide a means for a state’s attorney general to get money back to fraud victims.

Each year, attorneys general collect civil penalty payments from consumer fraud enforcement cases. When there are victims associated with a case, the money collected is restitution and goes to compensate victims of the fraud. Excess money, in most cases, will go into the state’s general fund. 

Under AARP’s model bill, excess money would be directed to a new fund, rather than to the state’s general fund. The state attorney general would then use the money in this new fund to pay restitution to consumers defrauded in other cases where the attorney general was unable to collect money from scammers to make restitution to the consumers for their losses.

There are few viable options for recovering money lost to scams. Funds like these could help solve this problem.

More ways AARP is working for you:

  • The AARP Fraud Watch Network is leading an effort to fundamentally change how our country responds to the crime of fraud. The team is reaching out to federal and state agencies, other nonprofits, the media and consumers to change the narrative on how we talk about fraud victims. The goal is to grow understanding that fraud is a punishable crime, that the perpetrators are largely transnational organized criminal enterprises funding such atrocities as human trafficking, and that it is not the fault of victims who experience scams by deception. We aim to convince federal and state law enforcement to do more to pursue these criminals. Learn more by watching a Tedx Talk by Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs and lead of the Fraud Watch Network. 
  • AARP, through its award-winning BankSafe Initiative, offers free online training to employees of banks and credit unions to help them identify and stop suspected fraud before any money leaves a customer’s account. The initiative has expanded to the retail sector to encourage frontline employees in stores to intervene when a customer appears to be trying to buy gift cards at the direction of a criminal under false pretenses. 
  • AARP’s Fraud Watch Network site (aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork) includes news on fraud and scam-fighting tips to thwart criminals. There, you can sign up for biweekly “Watchdog Alerts” by email or text to stay on top of the latest schemes.
  • The VOA ReST (Resilience, Strength and Time) program, a collaboration between AARP and Volunteers of America (VOA), offers free online facilitated emotional support sessions for fraud victims.

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spinner image cartoon of a woman holding a megaphone

Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.