House advances bill to create Senior Investor Taskforce within SEC

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to create a Senior Investor Taskforce within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strengthen protections and safeguards for senior investors.

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The Senior Security Act (HR 1565), introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), passed by a vote of 355 to 69. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

“No senior should ever have to worry that picking up the phone could mean being scammed out of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, for too many members of our communities, that is exactly what’s happening. Millions of seniors across the country, including my own mother, have been the victims of financial scams, and they’ve been cheated out of their rightful retirement. It’s appalling. It’s offensive. It’s unacceptable,” Gottheimer said. “Today, the House passed my bipartisan legislation to take senior fraud and scams head on by helping the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors crack down on senior-preying hucksters nationwide.”

The Senior Investor Taskforce at the SEC would identify challenges that senior investors encounter and address them in coordination with other offices and taskforces within the SEC. It would also be required to submit a biennial report that includes a summary of recent trends and initiatives that have impacted the investment landscape for senior investors. It would also include key observations, best practices, and areas needing improvement involving senior investors. Finally, it would include recommendations for rule changes, legislation, or guidance to resolve problems encountered by senior investors.

The bill was cosponsored by Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Sean Casten (D-I), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Van Taylor (R-TX), and Nikema Williams (D-GA).

According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging, older Americans lose about $3 billion each year to financial scams. However, only one in 24 cases of elder abuse actually get reported. The most common types of scams include fraudulent IRS impersonation and tech support calls. More than 2.5 million Americans have been targeted by scammers impersonating IRS officials, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Further, Microsoft estimates that more than 3 million Americans are victims of technical support scams, where scammers pretend to be from a tech company and persuade seniors to provide personal and bank information.

SIFMA, a trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks, and asset managers, supports the passage of the legislation in the House.

“SIFMA strongly supports any efforts that focus on the most immediate and most damaging dangers faced by senior investors, including financial exploitation. H.R. 1565 will strengthen efforts to protect these investors from those bad actors closest to them. It is estimated that senior investors are being exploited out of billions of dollars a year – roughly $3 billion per year in media-reported cases alone, while only an estimated 1 in 44 cases are reported to the authorities. This cost does not even begin to consider the wide-ranging non-financial impacts and the increased reliance on government services. This legislation will go a long way towards helping to fully understand and capture these costs,” SIFMA President and CEO Kenneth Bentsen, Jr. said.

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