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Gillibrand announces new law to protect seniors from fraud


On Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, at Wyandanch Senior Nutrition Center, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand annouced the Senior Financial Empowerment Act. The act would provide information to older people and their caregivers about financial abuse, standardize and improve how elder financial abuse is reported and establish a national senior fraud hotline. Credit: Barry Sloan

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced plans to introduce new legislation Monday to safeguard senior citizens from financial scams.

Gillibrand’s Senior Financial Empowerment Act would standardize how elder financial abuse is reported between local, state and federal governments; establish a national senior fraud hotline; and impose an additional $50,000 civil fine for scamming a senior, the junior Democratic senator from New York announced to news reporters and about 100 seniors eating breakfast at the Town of Babylon’s Wyandanch Senior Nutrition Center.

She said $16 million a year is defrauded from Long Island seniors, according to a June 2016 study conducted by the state Office of Children and Family Services.

“It’s clear we’re not doing enough to stop these crimes,” she said. With centralized reporting, she said, larger cases could be made against scammers, who she said have ties to the Russian mob.

She is waiting to find a Republican sponsor before she introduces the bill. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created under former President Barack Obama’s administration and which many Republicans want to abolish, would handle the new responsibilities in the bill. Her spokesman, Marc Brumer, said the office that would handle complaints is negotiable.

George Robinson, 83, of West Babylon, asked Gillibrand what hope her bill had with Republicans controlling the federal government.

Gillibrand replied she was confident that she would find a Republican co-sponsor. “This is not a partisan issue, I believe,” she said.

Robinson, a retiree who owned a flooring business, was skeptical the bill would pass given the inaction in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good idea, but I’ll be dead before any of this’ll be passed,” he said with a laugh.

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