Lawmakers, law enforcement taking steps to protect seniors from scammers

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some robocalls are just annoying, while others are criminal.

The bad actors who use robocalls to try and steal people’s money routinely target senior citizens. Lawmakers on the Senate Aging Committee talked with law enforcement officials on Wednesday about how to protect seniors from being duped by these scammers.

Experts estimate seniors are losing as much as $3 billion a year to the bad guys.

On Capitol Hill, law enforcement officials told the Senate Aging Committee about the tricks scammers use to steal money over the phone.

“Most common form is the caller claims that the potential victim has missed jury duty and there is a warrant for their arrest,” Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff Jerry Sanders Jr. explained.

According to Sanders, the caller typically uses spoofing technology and impersonates someone from the sheriff’s office.

“They advised one of the victims—a 65-year-old doctor— that he was subject to arrest for not responding to a grand jury subpoena,” Sanders added.

Sanders says his office was able to stop that attempt but they’re not always so lucky.

“Often trying to keep the public aware to avoid victimization is the best we can do,” he said.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, hopes the Stop Senior Scams Act will help those efforts by educating more people on how to spot when a senior is being taken advantage of.

“Another line of defense against scammers by giving bank tellers, cashiers, and others the tools to spot a scam,” Casey said.

But Casey says the protection can’t end there.

“Many in our country are divided on a range of issues but we’re united as Americans in despising these robocalls,” he added.

The committee wants the phone industry to adopt and implement the most up-to-date call-blocking technologies.

“Last year, robocallers generated more than 26 billion unwanted calls,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Robocalls are on pace to hit 58 billion this year, according to Collins.

The committee says it’s past time for Congress to get a grip on this issue as it continues to ramp up.

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