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.
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.)