Chris Van Hollen Senator for Maryland (May 21, 2024) - 

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help better protect seniors from financial securities fraud. The Senators’ legislation, the Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act, creates a new grant program, implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission, that would work closely with state securities regulators and insurance commissioners to protect senior investors. According to a 2023 report, older Americans lose approximately $28 billion each year to financial exploitation. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Zachary Nunn (R-Iowa).

“As scammers continue to find new ways to deceive and defraud older Americans, we need to take action to safeguard seniors’ financial security. Our bipartisan legislation will help ensure those who target older Americans are held accountable while promoting vigilance against scammers’ evolving tactics,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“All Americans deserve to be protected from fraudulent schemes, especially our seniors who have worked their entire lives to build a nest egg and create generational wealth to pass on to their loved ones,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act is a commonsense bill that protects our nation’s seniors from financial scams and abuse to help provide peace of mind in their golden years.” 

The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act will provide $10 million in grants annually to state regulators to support the investigation and prosecution of senior financial fraud cases, invest in technology and training, and conduct outreach to older Americans and increase their awareness of scams. State regulators and law enforcement play an essential role in combating fraud and scams aimed at older Americans.

Text of the Senators’ legislation is available here.

The Senators’ legislation is endorsed by a broad group of organizations, including: The American Council of Life Insurers, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Financial Services Institute, Insured Retirement Institute, Investment Company Institute, Public Investors Advocate Bar Association, North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Lincoln Financial Group, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, and Edward Jones.

“State securities regulators have been leaders for decades in the effort to protect older adults from fraudsters and bad actors. The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act would be a key tool in regulators’ toolkits to stop scam artists from preying on vulnerable seniors. We proudly support this bipartisan legislation as our members continue to educate and protect older investors,” said Claire McHenry, NASAA President and Deputy Director of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance. “NASAA appreciates Representative Gottheimer’s and Senator Van Hollen’s continued efforts to secure passage of this important legislation.”

“Consumer Federation of America (CFA) strongly supports The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act,” said CFA Director of Investor Protection Micah Hauptman. “The grants authorized by this legislation would provide much-needed funding to: investigate and prosecute cases involving senior financial fraud; promote technology, equipment, and training for regulators, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers tasked with shutting down senior scams; and provide educational materials to seniors to increase awareness of scams. We urge Congress to pass this important legislation,” Hauptman continued. 

“It’s so important that the states are well-equipped to educate our seniors about the risks of financial fraud. These grants would also contribute to state resources dedicated to preventing fraud before it happens, and to prosecuting bad actors when it does. State and congressional leaders should act to protect our seniors, and I’m grateful to Sen. Van Hollen and Rep. Gottheimer for introducing this important legislation. I encourage members of Congress to support the bill and enact it quickly into law,” said Eric J. Pan, President and CEO of the Investment Company Institute.