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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  October 23, 2015 9:00am-11:01am EDT

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there's this one week where he just isn't making the early morning meeting and his assistant is showing up and by day four secretary clinton was a little bit irritated, you know. that's the deputy secretary of state. and so she sort of says, so where's jim? and his assistant said, well, his wife is traveling this week so this is his week. he's taking his daughters to school and he'll be back. and of course her reaction was, why don't you tell me? he went up in her estimation at that moment, right? and we knew that there was a ready willing neness to accommoe to the extent you could. >> it's one thing, i guess, if you're the number one at state, though, and if you're the janitor trying to get that office ready or the secretary who is backing everybody up. one of your messages is leading from the top. >> but this is also where i really do think focusing on care
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changes the conversation because focusing on advancing women and, again, i want women in the top of every profession but when we think about it that way, we start counting. because that's the way you measure how well women are doing, how many women are in fortune 500 and how many women are in senior management and how many women are computer scientists. all that have does focus pretty much on wealthy white women, by and large. it does not phofocus on the millions of the women at the bottom. one of the thing i realize, we have too few women at the top and too many women at the bottom and care or our lack of support for care plays a role at both ends. at the top end, if you take time out for care, your career goes off track. but for the millions of women at the bottom not supporting their care means if they take a day off they could lose a job,
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right? so focusing on care says we have to put in place the policies that rich women can buy their way out of often. we have to put in leave, paid family leave, paternity -- maternity and paternity leave and quality affordable child care. [ applause ] >> it, i'm sure, is not lost on the awed yents that we are two women up here having this conversation. and i want to close by another confession, i guess, which is when i was asked to do this interview, i leapt at it because i knew i would want to read your book and delighted to get the chance to talk to you. there was a tiny part of me that said i should give it to your man, about having men in the conversation. how many book interviews have you done that have been done with male journalists? >> i've done a couple. i've done a couple. fareed zakaria.
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and i'm getting a lot of responses from men. >> interesting. what are you hearing? >> yesterday did i a radio show where a lot of men called in and talked about how they're just as competent at home and they don't like the assumption that they're not. i do think this conversation is ready to be broken open by men. and part of it is men are missing out. my husband wrote, why i put my wife's career first. he said it was hard on his career. it was better for his marriage. it was better for our sons. and it was better for him, that he has a relationship with them that his father never had with him. that he is grounded, the anchor of our family in a way women -- that's part of what we get out of being mothers and also being professionals. so why shouldn't men have the equal ability to really enjoy what fatherhood is about or to be with your own parents as they
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are toward the end of their lives. it's not a burden. when it works, it's the greatest thing in the world. we just need to make it work for everybody. >> it's an empowering message, anne-marie slaughter. thank you so much. on our road to the white house coverage this evening, we'll take you to miami, florida, where republican presidential candidate donald trump will be addressing supporters. we'll have that live on c-span 2 at 7:00 p.m. eastern. then on to council bluffs, iowa, where presidential hopeful senator ted cruz will be talking to voters at a town hall meeting live on c-span at 8:30 p.m. eastern. and on saturday, we'll be in des moines, iowa, for the jefferson jackson dinner, where we'll hear from all four democratic candidates for president. you can tune in at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. c-span provides the best
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access for hillary clinton testifying before the house select committee on benghazi. >> there was no credible actionable threat known to our intelligence community against our compound. >> our hearing coverage without commercials or commentary will air on c-span. joining us on the line, though, is heidi przybyla, a reporter with "usa today." heidi, are you there? >> yes, i'm here. >> hi, heidi. thanks so much for joining us. and can you after, what, ten hours -- actually 8:20 without breaks, can you tell what's did we learn today? >> well, let's remember what the goals of this hearing were. they were two found. one, they were to uncover any new information related to the attacks in benghazi. and, two, the second goal was political. it was to let republicans prove this was not a political fishing
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expedition. on the first point, i think you heard the chairman say that he wasn't sure based on her testimony that they had learned anything new. that he would have to go back and review the transcripts from her previous testimony. what i can say is that there was a heavy focus during the hearing on a few things. one, that there were, by their accounts, hundreds of security requests that apparently never, quote, made it to her in box. there was a lot of focus on that. there was a lot of focus on the fact that she had a role in advocating to the president to intervene in the first place in libya. but really there were no obvious conclusions coming out of this and by the chairman's own words, you know, i think there was, as
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you heard from the callers, something in this on the political question for both sides. i think republicans who didn't like her and didn't support her in the first place and were suspicious about benghazi will walk away with it saying, you know, this is further proof that there was some kind of a cover-up of something here. and on the democratic side i honestly think that in some ways this is going to be a boone to her just because if you look at the reaction out in the twitter sphere and just in general from democrats, the fact that, you know, this did go on so long, for ten hours, twice as long as the previous testimony, that she lost her voice by the end of it. and with so many questions that they felt had been asked and answered before, i think it may actually play to her political advantage. i did speak with the gop
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pollster who was also in the audience. and that was his assessment as well. was that any of the fireworks and dynamics and drama that were coming off of the dias there would redound to her benefit just because the bar was so high for republicans coming into this, that there was no smoking gun coming out of this, no clear conclusion. >> now, heidi, if you have to kind of choose maybe a high point for both the committee and for secretary clinton, is there one that stands out on sort of both sides of what we saw today? >> well, i think on the gop side, representatives jordan, you know, did have some pretty pointed questions to her about the videos of the embassy attack and what exactly transpired in the immediate aftermath of the
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attacks and why there was this discrepancy between what really happened and what the administration was saying and what hillary clinton herself was saying in the media. he had some pretty pointed questioning. i think that was one of the high points for him. for her i think it was more her opportunity to share some of the personal stories behind her involvement in this. for example, you know, the details of what went on inside the embassy with the effort to try and resuscitate ambassador stevens and even, i think, by the republicans' account, it was, quote, moving. i think that was the word of trey gowdy. i think from her perspective, just the ability -- her ability to put a more human face on the entire episode. >> okay. so those are the high points. you know i'm coming back at you for the low points.
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where do you think things really either fell apart for the committee or for hillary during this ten hours today? >> i think it actually started about three hours in when representative cummings went -- got very kind of loud and confrontational with representative gowdy, again, on the question of whether they were there for political reasons. and i know that going into this gowdy did not want -- that's exactly the kind of major television moment he did not want going into this. and he kept himself in check after the hearing but he did respond in kind. it got heated at that moment and i know that was exactly the kind of thing that he wanted to avoid. on substance i think one of the low points, again for
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republicans was much, much later after about nine hours of questioning when the substance clearly veered into things that were very off topic in terms of her use of private e-mail server that was really unrelated to libya, that was just broadly questions about her use of her private e-mail server which, again, that was something gowdy wanted to avoid. he said in preinterviews on national television that he did not care about her e-mails that did not relate to libya. >> sorry. go ahead, heidi. finish up. >> i have a hard time coming up with a real low point for clinton other than i think at one point she plugged her book which i would say wasn't necessarily the wisest move but, then again, seven, eight hours of questioning there. >> and just give us a quick sense since you were in the room and our cameras can only pick up
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so much. what did it feel like when you were in there and what was the mood? i know it was a long day. >> clinton really kind of -- i was struck by the fact she looked so even keeled. when ron johnson was pointedly questioning her, she did respond and raised her voice in response and there was a lot that have going on aimed at her. in terms of the other atmospherics, people were showing they were tired. it was unusual she had a whole bench of democratic potential surrogates in the row behind her. mostly democratic house members who i talked to them and said, were you asked to come here? no we came here on our own. we were curious. we'd never seen anything like this before.
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i saw an interesting mix of people in the room such as tom davis, former republican who was there wearing his old congressional pin. i said why did you come here? he said it's basically a spectacle. this is -- i've never seen anything like this. so i think there was a lot of interest from all quarters, you know, in the room represented there. >> to wrap up, what's next? what happens with the committee as far as you know? >> gowdy will it continue to interview witnesses. you heard him at the end say that. this is not the end. that they'll continue to interview witnesses and i don't think we're going to see any final conclusions out of this until well into the new year. my guess is republicans outside
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of congress and both in congress probably as well from a political perfespective will pit to focusing on other aspects of her service in the state department. i think we'll see both members on the committee and off continue to make the argument that this hearing raised questions that they don't have all the information. that will be what they say in the end we weren't actually able to prove we got all of her e-mails and so we'll never know what we don't know. clinton said i did not conduct most of my business at the state department over e-mails. the waters will continue to be muddied and both will have fodder to use, to appeal to their bases. >> heidi przybyla, thanks so
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much for the insight and sharing what you heard and saw today. >> thank you. >> one quick note about yet's hearing, they will reair on c-span saturday and sunday beginning at noon each day. we are live at the rayburn building where the house subcommittee will be looking at what's being done to protect seniors against fraud talking to the consumer protection bureau and the federal trade commission as well as consumer groups. the committee wants to know what the different private sectors are doing to protect seniors. should get under way shortly here live on c-span 3.
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the subcommittee on commerce manufacturing and trade will now come to order and the chair recognizes himself for five minutes for the purpose of an opening statement. this morning, first let me welcome our witnesses. this morning we will receive an update on the consumer protection efforts in place to address the fraud risk for america's seniors. as of july 2013 there are over 44 million americans who are
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older than 65, that's almost 14% of the population. the population 65 and older in the united states projects to outnumber people younger than 18 for the first time in 2033. a mere 18 years from now. the median income of these households is over $35,000 per year and 71% report having a computer in their home. the median network of seniors 65 and over is 25 times that of people under 35 years of age. the expanding population of older americans and their relative wealth compared to other great age groups increases the risk that someone will want to target them in scams. new technologies are everywhere. each week a new smartphone or tablet is announced, new apps with new capabilities keep cropping up. keeping up with new technology can be a challenge particularly for seniors that are less
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familiar with technology or are retired and are not exposed to new technology at the work place. the risk of fraud cannot be underestimated. in the november issue of "consumer reports" eight brave seniors came forward to tell their stories about being defrauded. in some cases out of thousands of dollars, sometimes just in a matter of hours. this is all before family or law enforcement could be notified or intervened. while fraud perpetrated by strangers against the elderly is not the only type of abuse against the elderly, it does represent 50% of the reported cases. that is why the hearing today is so important. even where there is no silver bullet, it is critically important for the subcommittee to understand what government agencies, what the media, what universities, and what private groups are doing to protect from fraud and to help them recuperate losses if they are
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targeted. and we need to figure out how our enforcement agencies can devote more resources to the problem. there are few more important issues when it comes to fraud and consume earp protection. the chair now recognizes the subcommittee ranking member ms. schakowsky. >> i appreciate the topic. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. i want to particularly thank a fellow chicagoan, robert harris, for being here. mr. harris is the cook county public guardian and he's leading the fight to protect the elderly against fraud and deception in my hometown. as a longtime consumer advocate and now the co-chair of the congressional task force on seniors for the democratic caucus, i'm committed to ensuring that seniors benefit
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from strong consumer protections. more now than ever this subcommittee ought to be helping and we are beginning that process today to ensure that elderly americans are protected against fraudsters. seniors represent the fastest growing segment of our population since 2000, the number of seniors has grown about 30% while the population overall just increased 10%. more than one in four seniors who lives alone has difficulty with activities of daily living or some cognitive impairment. according to the fbi seniors generally have higher net worth, a tendency to be trusting and are less likely to report fraud. all of this makes the elderly prime targets. we have seen an uptick in the number of products and services that are targeted toward the elderly including anti-aging products, health related products, reverse mortgages.
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i'm incredibly concerned about the risks posed by those products and services. not necessarily that all of them are fraudulent but that we need to be careful. i want to know what trends our witnesses are seeing, hear their policy in public engagement, prescriptions for combatting fraud, and learn how we can help you in protecting the elderly. i'd also like to say that if this congress is truly committed to routing out senior fraud, we should start by providing adequate funding to the cfpb, the -- i want to say it out. the consumer financial protection bureau, the federal trade commission, and other agencies responsible for protecting seniors. stopping fraud should not come at the cost of adequately overseeing financial services, industries, appropriately
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monitoring corporate data security and privacy policies. yet, unfortunately, the republican budget would eliminate mandatory funding for the consumer financial protection bureau and cut funding for the ftc more than 3% from the previous year. with those entities responsible for protecting more seniors from more threats each year, it's hard to see how those proposals are anything but anti-senior. i hope this hearing is the beginning of a collaborative process that will yield real benefits to senior citizens. our senior population and their families deserve no less. again, i thank the witnesses for appearing today. i thank the chairman for this hearing, and i look forward to gaining from your insights. >> does the gentle lady yield back? >> and i yield back. >> the gentle lady yields back. the chair thanks the gentle lady. are there other members on the republican side who seek time for an opening statement?
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we will temporarily conclude with members' opening statements. there may be additional members on the other side that may yet arrive to the committee. we do know there is another subcommittee hearing going on this morning and people are toggling in between for the members who are here, the chair reminds members that pursuant to committee rules all members' opening statements will be made part of the record. to be respective of everyone's time --
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>> it is quiet. >> the chair then is pleased to recognize the ranking member of the full committee, mr. pallone. >> you shouldn't wait for me, mr. chairman. >> so noted. it will never happen again. >> seriously, you shouldn't. i want to thank you and the ranking member for holding today's hearing on ways to protect our seniors from fraud. as we've seen far too often each year, fraud affects consumers of all ages and the perpetrators of scams remain highly adept at avoiding the consequences of their criminal acts. seniors, however, are a fast-growing segment of our population and the threats to their financial security could mean billions of dollars in stolen assets if we let them fall prey to scammers. today's seniors are living longer, more active lives and possess greater wealth than previous generations of seniors. these are encouraging trends but represent opportunities for abuse to occur. seniors are inundated with advertisements that provide fraudulent work from home arrangements, computer repair, anti-aging products and many others. they are also targeted
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disproportionately for certain scams like those involving prized promotions, health related products and services and reverse mortgages. more active lives increasingly means active on the internet. where a significant number of scams originated according to the ftc. moreover, certain types of harassments such as being bombarded with telemarketing scams and the need to stop answering the phone can lead to feelings of isolation for seniors. most troubling, we also are seeing a rise in abuse particularly financial in nature committed by those closest to seniors including family, friends, caregivers or other trusted advisers. seniors victimized are hesitant to report crimes to law enforcement either out of embarrassment or fear of retribution from their abuser. others may be unaware of a crime committed against them. a number of federal agencies stand ready in combatting fraud. the ftc and the consumer financial protection bureau both play a key role in collecting data, educating consumers, and taking enforcement actions
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against the perpetrators of exploitation and as often as is the case, much of the day-to-day fighting is occurring at the state and local levels. i look forward to hearing what is working and where we can improve our response to fraud against seniors. our seniors and the savings they have worked so hard to build over the course of their lives are at stake and some seniors have seen their nest eggs wiped away never to return. we need to make sure all levels of government are doing what they can and have the tools to prevent these devastating scenarios. i just wanted to say when i graduated from law school for a couple years, i was actually -- i worked for an agency called protective services for the elderly. and when i was in the state legislature, we actually put together a bill that governor kaine, a republican, signed that basically set up a program protecting the elderly from
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fraud and abuse. so i'm particularly -- i haven't really been involved as directly since then. that was a long time ago. it's always something i worry a great deal about and something i was involved with. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair thanks the gentleman. now we will turn to our witnesses as we do want to thank them for being here with us this morning and taking time to testify before this subcommittee. today's hearing will consist of two panels, each panel of witnesses will have an opportunity to give an opening statement followed by a round of questions from members. once we conclude with questions of the first panel, we will take a brief recess to set up for the second panel. our first witness panel for today's hearing includes mr. daniel kauffman, deputy director of the bureau of consumer protection at the federal trade commission. mrs. stacy cannon, deputy director of the office of financial protection for older americans at the consumer financial protection bureau.
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and mr. robert f. harris, public guardian of cook county, illinois. we appreciate all of you being here today and we will begin the panel with you, mr. kauffman. you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement, please. >> thank you and good morning, dr. burgess, ranking member schakowsky. i'm delighted to appear before you to provide an overview of the fraud threats to older americans and the ftc's actions to address them. combatting fraud is a critical component of the ftc's consumer protection mission and virtually every law enforcement case that we bring affects older americans. we have adopted a multifaceted approach in our battle against fraud that targets older consumers or injures them more than others and that includes aggressive law enforcement, policy initiatives, and consumer education and outreach. to address such fraud effectively, the ftc monitors
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fraud trends by examining data gathered from consumer complaints and surveys and collaborating with others in law enforcement, industry, academia, and legal services. through our extensive law enforcement experience and efforts to track fraud trends we have identified practices affecting seniors in several discreet areas and our consumer complaint data shows that for 2015 older americans complained primarily about government and business impostor scams, telemarketing, technical support scams, and sweepstakes and lottery scams. while our consumer survey shows that older americans are not necessarily more likely to be defrauded than younger consumers, the ftc has nevertheless focused on scams involving seniors. for example, in recent years we have concentrated law enforcement efforts on technical support and health care related scams. fraudsters frequently claim affiliation with well-known
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businesses or government age agencies to build truts with consumers and often use robo calls and spoof caller i.d.s to reach as many people as possible. in the last year the ftc has filed three cases against defendants engaged in technical support scams where con artists trick consumers into purchasing technical support services and products purported ly to fix problems on their computers. in fact, the computer problems are nonexistent and the defendants have caused millions of dollars in injury to older consumers. the ftc's actions are crucial in halting these practices. similarly the ftc has filed multiple cases against fraudsters that have used deceptive practices to sell health care-related products and services to older americans such as medical alert systems, pharmaceutical benefits, and fake information regarding medicare benefits. in all of these cases the fraudsters pretended an affiliation with a consumer's friend or family member or with a well-known bank or government
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agency in order to gain consumers' trust. our law enforcement efforts have banned defendants from telemarketing, making robo calls, or debiting bank accounts and we have recovered money for consumers. we have also sued money transfer service that is are commonly used in scams that target older americans. and our coordination with state, federal, and international partners is as strong as ever. indeed, some of the individuals sued by the ftc for defrauding elderly consumers have been prosecuted criminally. finally, consumer education and outreach are indispensable. in 2014 we launched an innovative and successful education effort called pass it on that is aimed at older active consumers. pass it on arms seniors with important information regarding topics such as impostor and health care scams, charity fraud, and identity theft that they can pass on to family and friends who might need it.
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the ftc has an ongoing and sustained commitment to protecting older americans by pursuing robust law enforcement, important policy work and innovative consumer education and outreach. i look forward to any questions you may have. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. you're recognized for an opening statement, please. would you please check to see if your microphone is on. >> thank you. can you hear me now? great. thank you. thank you, chairman burgess, ranking member schakowsky and distinguished members to speak with you today about the devastating problem of elder financial exploitation. my name is stacy cannon. i'm the deputy assistant director in the office for older americans at the consumer financial protection bureau. our office is dedicated to providing older consumers with the tools they need to protect themselves from financial abuse and to make sound financial
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decisions. the evidence is clear. older americans have assets that make them attractive targets of fraudsters. in 2011 the cumulative net worth of consumers aged 65 and older was approximately $17.2 trillion. older adults are victimized by a range of perpetrators including scam artists, family members, caregivers, financial advisers, home repair contractors, and even court-appointed guardians. the national study found that an estimateded 5.2% of americans 60 and older are exploited by a family member. other studies show that most incidents of financial abuse go unreported and under the radar. once the fraud occurs, of course, older americans have little time and few resources to recoup lost savings. to address the serious challenges we recognize that collaboration is critical. among other things, the bureau
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participants along with several other federal agencies in the council that fosters coordination of federal agencies. for example, many of our initiatives support council recommendations. and this year the cfpb jointly issued a consume earp advisory on planning for diminished capacity and illness. the bureau also works in education initiatives with nonprofits, community organizations, and industry groups such as the financial services roundtable and meals on wheels america. i'd like to tell but a few of our initiatives to combat elder financial exploitation. one is the money smart for older adults program which we developed jointly with the fdic. money smart is a curriculum that teaches consumers and their caregivers about different types of fraud scams, exploitation, and provides warning signs and tips. it's used by a broad range of intermediaries including state and local governments, nonprofit
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financial institutions. in october 2013, that's who we released managing someone else's money guides. they assist people who are managing the finances for a family member or a friend who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. many older americans experience declining capacity to handle finances which make them very vulnerable to fraudsters. 22% of americans over age 70 have mild cognitive impairment. it can reduce the older person's ability to detect fraud or a scam thereby necessitating the need for a surrogate to handle their money. the guides that i mentioned are user friendly how to guides that explain responsibilities and how to spot scams and exploitation. in 2013 the cfpb and seven other federal agencies released interagency guidance to provide financial institutions with certainty about the legality of
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reporting suspected financial exploitation. the guidance encourages timely reporting to law enforcement adult protective services and other federal and state and local agencies. the bureau also has additional resources that help protect older americans against fraud. ask cfpb is an interactive online tool that helps provide clear, unbiased answers to their financial questions. it has served more than 8 million visitors since march of 2012. we also accept consumer complaints by phone, mail, fax, and through our website. as of september 30, 2015, the bureau handled over 726,000 complaints of which approximately 63,000 were submitted by or on behalf of a consumer 62 years and older. congressional leadership and support is critical to implementing a multifaceted solution to the problem of elder financial exploitation. we, therefore, commend this
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subcommittee for holding this hearing and look forward to continued information sharing with interested parties and stakeholders. thank you very much. >> the chair thanks the gentle lady. mr. harris, you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement, please. >> good morning, mr. burgess, ranking member schakowsky and members of the commerce, manufacturing, and trade subcommittee. i'm the cook county public guardian in chicago. i was appointed in 2004 by the chief judge at the circuit court of cook county to act as the guardian for people with alzheimer's and dementia. i'm here today to discuss the issue confronting hundreds of people under my guardianship who have severe forms of dementia and have been exploited. my office serves approximately 600 people right now as the guardian of last resort for people without family or others to care for them.
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the average age is 72. the oldest is 103 and around 70 of them are over 90 years old. our goal is to maintain them in their own homes or in a community setting and we are available for assets. most of them have bought homes, saved money for their golden years. unfortunately, there are people who view them as potential victims. and the problem is so widespread that at least a third of our intake cases have some form of financial exploitation. it doesn't matter if they have a house worth $25,000. the exploiters can be anyone, family members, agents acting under the power of attorney. long time friends, clergy,
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police officers and strangers and others who have -- either have or obtain a position of trust for the elderly victims. to combat and recover assets stolen from the people we serve, we do several things. we work with law enforcement, adult protective agencies and fraud protection of financial institutions. we work with the media to shed light on the problem within the public and we speak at various community organizations to educate their constituents about the problem. one of our strongest and chief tools that we use is the development of a financial recovery unit that we call fru. we have three full-time attorneys who file citation actions pursuant to the illinois probate act and other causes of action to recover stolen, converted, embezzled or concealed assets. over the past ten years that we have worked on this particular issue, the unit has recovered
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almost $50 million in money, houses, and other properties for the people under my guardianship to be able to use for their care to maintain them in the community. the types of scams that we see include executing fraudulent deeds, unduly influencing the elderly individuals to sign over their property or using power of attorney to empty their bank accounts. the almost $50 million that we've recovered for people under my guardianship is just the tip of the iceberg. and i'm sure that it is only a tiny fraction of the money that individuals have been exploited of in and around chicago. some of our suggested solutions are to help local governments establish offices such as mine or legal clinics to establish practices that help people who have been exploited whether they come into the court system or whether they simply need help and aren't involved in the probate court case.
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educate seniors and the public regarding the dangers of financial exploitation through community organizations and places of worship and community centers and resources that might be available to them, to utilize organizations like the national guardianship association to play an important role by promoting standards of best practices for guardians and probate courts by providing education and training and provide advocacy on the issue and the impact seniors including -- that impact seniors including elder abuse and financial exploitation, develop court systems and processes that don't work against seniors and consider the your jurgency of tr the elderly such as the probate and the elder law and miscellaneous remedies courts in chicago because many exploiters simply try to wait out the life span of those of the elderly victims. you have the written materials that i've submitted that are premised large part on article
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that my deputy public guardian wrote and i'd be happy to share our experiences with individual cases. thanks to all of our witnesses for your testimony. recognizing myself for five minutes. fraudulent deed, what happens with that? someone comes door-to-door and says i'll sell you some property? >> well, no, actually what they do sometimes is they do quick claim deeds from the person, the elderly person. they forge those deeds, write their own names in or deeded to a third party and then they recorded against the property. and sometimes those elderly people never know about the crime.
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and then one day someone shows up and they no longer own their own homes. >> sometimes they -- actually they have not purchased the home. they've just developed a deed. and recorded against their property. >> and you're able to intervene on behalf of that person? >> oh, yeah. what happens is if a case is referred to our office and the person qualifies, first of all, they have to have a cognitive impairment that severe enough to qualify for our services. we would file a citation to recover the property that's been wrongfully taken from them. >> are there other people within your county who would if someone wasn't suffering from a cognitive impairment where that could be remedied? >> yes. there's a legal assistance foundation that we have in chicago there are a couple of attorneys who work on cases who don't have guardians.
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often they just have people that walk in. the office is very small and one of the biggest issues i think we are confronted with, not just on the deed, the fraudulent deed cases but some of our people that we work with make the worst witnesses because of their impairment whether this is severe or not. they need more help. sometimes these are very intensive document intensive, financial intensive cases that requires a lot of work and detail. >> thank you. mr. kaufman, thank you for being here this morning and i want to thank the ftc for always being willing to come and talk to our subcommittee and having us over to your offices earlier in the year. and having us to your regional offices in dallas.
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i've learned about resource that is are available. let me ask you about your question about a foreign agency involved, something called the jamaican lottery, which i'm not sure i understand what it is but what enforcement tools do you have to be able to put a stop to these practices and what have you learned about multijurisdictional enforcement? >> thank you for the question. it is challenging. there are impediments when fraud is emanating from overseas to the united states. the tools that this committee has given us, the u.s. safe web act have provided assistance but we've worked closely and built stronger relationships with law enforcement authorities in other countries in canada and the united kingdom. we've seen a lot of scams emanating from jamaica and have a group we're involved in caught jolt which is a number of law enforcement.
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to help assist the jamaicans in prosecuting these cases there as well as in the united states. what do you have at your disposal for spotting trends that you might anticipate if something is happening in one location that it might migrate to another location. are there tools where you can keep track of pochg pping up on radar screen. >> we have law enforcement agencies and the better business bower owe. we track and look for trends and look for increasing spikes in order to find targets to pursue.
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>> i mentioned in my testimony that we have a consumer response department where we accept complaints from consumers if our office, the office for older americans, we look at the complaints submitted by on behalf of older consumers routinely. and look for trends and spikes as well. some of the information we pulled from the complaints if appropriate we send to our enforcement division. we will develop materials based on what we find. >> part of the purpose of having this hearing, of course, is the expostory nature of the services that you all have. i will tell you as a regular guy when i was caring for my parent as they aged i had no idea about the types of services available nor cognizant of the risks out
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there. looking back on 10 or 15 years ago i realized there were probably some near misses. what i really hope this subcommittee hearing does today is make people, number one, awarp of the problem and, number two, aware of where they can go for help. the gentle lady from illinois, the ranking member of the subcommittee. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i appreciate your last comment. hopefully we can drill down on this. i wanted to ask mr. harris a question. you said that you represent, you are guardian for 600 people. how do those people get to you? how does that happen? >> we often have referrals from judges. we will be called from law enforcement, referrals from banking institutions as well. >> so would you estimate there are a lot of people out there
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who are -- who do not have the benefit of your guardianship? >> yes. i do. a lot of people who either are fearful and there's a lot of people out there that are fearful even to call our office because they believe that the government stepping in will be a bad thing for them. if there's an appropriate family. that's the preferable way to go. i think we do offer some services that specifically are through a unit that is unlike probably any other organization in our city and state. >> you said that a third of the people, so that would be about 200 of those are a victim of exploitation, did you say by families? >> by family members but often it's a lot of other people.
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there's a lot of people that hold great positions of trust. it can be a family member. >> i'm wondering if of the type financial exploitation that seniors under your care have experienced. >> sure. i remember a young lady -- young lady to me. she's older but she's still young in spirit, who was expl t exploited by a woman who styled herself as her personal banker. she would go to the same bank downtown chicago, large banking institution, for years. she worked for r.r. donnelly, which used to be a company that produced books and other things in the city. and she and her husband had amassed a small amount of money, about $300,000. this person, she befriended her, would sit down with her every time she came into the bank. she started to rely on her to write checks for her bills.
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and she ended up taking about $300,000 from her. the bank called us. we ultimately, after a little contentiousness, we ultimately were able to recover the money from her. but we have also had people who have been exploited who have gone to the hospital, elderly gentleman, 90 years 0e7 s old, cna at the hospital who ended up volunteering to become his caregiver who stole about $500,000 from him. those are just some of the cases we have had all kinds of cases similar to that. >> some of these are so personal. and i think -- i don't know if all of you, but i know mr. kauffman said a lot of people don't report it. and i would think when families are involved, that it becomes even more difficult. how can we -- maybe this is for all of you -- encourage people
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to protect themselves to actually report when family or a former trusted friend has clearly exploited them? how do we break through that? >> sure. i think a couple things. first, obviously, we would love to have the committee members providing information on their website and to the constituents about the resources we provide. it's important to help us get the word out. we would like the committee to assist us. for us, our campaign pass it on is premised on the notion that it's senior citizens helps other senior citizens and not being afraid to talk about fraud and to protect each other. that's been the focus of our consumer education is sort of breaking that barrier and getting seniors to talk about it with each other. >> let me ask you -- did you have something? >> well, i was just going to say that similar to the ftc, we're out and about and encouraging the reporting of abuse.
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it is something that really needs almost a mass media attention to. we have the money smart for older adults, train the trainer program that we are out and about with intermediaries training people, constantly about how to spot and intervene and report when fraud is observed. >> do you partner with senior citizen organizations like aarp? >> yes. we're a very small office with 57 million constituents. so the only way that we could effectively do our job is if we connect with service providers, state, local government entities, other federal parter ins in order to -- with organizations that are on the ground providing services to seniors. many of them have -- will engage in the money smart training for their clientele. >> mr. chairman, can i ask one
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short question? i wonder, mr. harris, does the state attorney general have any role in helping your office with financial exploitation? >> yes. in terms of some of the bigger cases, people who do systemic, exploitive of things, they do get involved, file lawsuits. as does the u.s. attorney's office as well. i have to say that to me, one of the biggest tools that we can use is to get to the smaller community groups, to go to churches, to go to synagogues, to go to other places. we work with a small agency on the west side of chicago called south austin coalition. and they are -- they know people. they bring folks like myself and these two people here from their organizations to come and talk to the very smaller groups. i have generated certain cases where we have been able to help people from those groups. because i'm not sure how much some of the folks on the west
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side, the south side and some of the north side of chicago are looking at bigger media attention on something like that or reading some of the brochures that are really geared toward helping the seniors. as simple as you can get it and as grass-roots as you can get it, that's probably most effective tool that i have seen. >> let me just say i would really like to meet further with all of you and talk about ways that we can partner on this. and i look forward to the committee following up on this. thank you. >> chair thanks the gentle lady. the chair recognizes mr. lance from new jersey, five minutes for your questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my thanks to the distinguished panel for being here. i hear from constituents all the time about being bombarded with robo-calls from scammers who have spoofed their phone numbers to look like a local call or
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like a state or federal agency in order to scam them out of personal and financial information. indeed, yesterday my wife received such a call in new jersey. someone claiming that we were in arrears with the internal revenue service. she chose quite appropriately not to return the telephone call. she telephoned me and our office looked into the te eed into the number. it was someone scamming constituents, i would imagine, across the country. i've introduced a bill with grace mmang of new york city an chairman barton called the anti spoofing act of 2015. it would target caller i.d. spoofing. specifically, expand protection of the communications act of 1934 to include spoofed text
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messages and voice over i.p. calls. mr. kauffman, the ftc runs a do not call list. would you please explain in detail what my constituents and others who are on the list should do if they believe they are being called by scammers or organizations in violation of ftc protection. >> sure. thank you for the question. robo-calls are a huge challenge. the first word of advice, if you receive one, hang up. don't provide any information. just hang up. >> i hope those who are viewing this hearing will take that to heart. do not respond to such a call. >> the technology issues are challenging. it has become very inexpensive to blast millions upon millions of phone calls. we're bringing law enforcement actions. but the cases are challenging. the caller i.d.s are spoofed. it makes finding the perpetrator challenging. one thing we have done at the
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ftc that is innovative is we have issued a number of different public challenges to get people in the technology community interested in the issue of robo-calls to figure out ways to block calls. we have had four separate events that have been successful. it's something we are continuing to pursue. we also, again, hang up on the calls, get yourself on the do not call list. we continue to work hard on n this area. >> thank you. in one of the counties i represent in new jersey, residents were being telephoned by those who claimed to be from the county sheriff's office. this is clearly inaccurate, fraudulent. the sheriff of that county, the sherr sheriff has taken appropriate action. but this happens frequently. how do the ftc and fcc coordinate to combat the scams? >> we have frequent phone calls. we are careful we're not overlapping in terms of the law
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enforcement actions. we try to harmonize our processes and implementation as well as we can. >> thank you. i'm interested in your office. i do not know much about it, as i understand it, you are appointed by the chief judge of the circuit court of cook county. and is that true of all the counties in illinois or only in cook county with several million people? >> actually, it is only in cook county that there's a public guardian like myself. the other public guardians are appointed by the governor. >> by of governor in the various counties or are there jurisdictions? >> it should be in the various counties, which becomes a problem sometimes because some of the counties are so small. >> yes. then do you report to the circuit court of cook county? how does that work? >> yes. i act under the auspices. i'm an appointed person on each one of my cases. we have to report the court on
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an annual basis. we file inventories. we file a yearly accounting and kind of a goings on, kind of a social on what we have done with the wards. we also file a yearly -- annual report with the cook county commissioners. >> thank you. very good luck with your continued work. it is certainly a matter of strong public policy as well as the other members of the panel. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentlemen yields back. the chair recognizes the gentlemen -- the other gentleman from new jersey, the ranking of the full committee. five minutes for your questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to ask mr. kauffman a variety of scammed emerge turning tax filing season, one of which is a person who claims to represent the irs. i think that's -- >> yes. would the ranking member yield? this happened to me, my wife
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personally yesterday. >> i thought you were saying that when i walked in but i wasn't sure. thanks. this person threatens a victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a license if an amount of money is not paid immediately. these scammers are very aggressive and may use personal information to seem legitimate. it has affected many constituents in my district. i'm not making this up. including seniors, one of whom was recently threatened with a home foreclosure if they didn't pay a specified amount. mr. kauffman, i would like my constituents to be prepared when they receive a phone call from an irs imposter. >> i can absolutely confirm that, those are imposter scams and consumers should hang up and not provide any information. >> i appreciate that. i'm probably going to repeat
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what you just said just so we don't -- so people understand that in my district. i wanted to ask also about reporting incidents of elderly fraud. many consider financial exploitation to be a silent crime because victims are often too ashamed or embarrassed to report what has happened. addition additionally, it can be chaming to serve as a witness and law enforcement officials identify lack of reporting and the difficulty obtaining relevant data as challenges to identity and to combat elderly financial exploitation. can you explain the role the consumer sentinel network has? are there any challenges the ftc faces with respect to the database and what steps need to be taken to increase reporting of exploitation? >> the dad tabase is important r law enforcement agencies. we continue to improve it. we have enhancements in the works right now.
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it's a tool for law enforcement agencies to have access to millions of consumer complaints and to look for trends and to look for specific areas they might be interested in. it's been effective in many of our cases have originated from complaints that we have received and that are in our database. >> okay. let me ask, can you give us an update on the consumer complaint database at the cfpb? how many complaints do you receive? what types of fraud are you seeing? how is this information been useful to you in developing policy proposals? >> well, i will say that we know that there have been in excess of 63,000 complaints that have been submitted by consumers 62 and older since we began acce accepting complaints. what we do is we look at them to see how older consumers are
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doing in the marketplace. we know from looking at the complaints that there are many older consumers who are having difficulties with their mortgages and with debt collection. those are the two largest areas that orlando consumers are complaining about. which, by the way, is not unlike their younger counter parts. there is often a misconception that older consumers are not engaged fully in the marketplace. that simply is not true. that's borne out by the complaints that we see. our consumer response section for complaints, of course, is focused on consumer products and services, which is what the bureau focuses on. however, consumers also add narratives into their complaints. and we have the opportunity to find instances of financial exploitation, of stories that are related to that in the complaints as well. >> all right. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair thanks the gentlemen.
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the chair recognizes the gentleman from mississippi. >> thank you and thanks to each of you for being here. we certainly have a lot of issues that need to be discussed. i know this will come as a surprise, but we do some bipartisan work on occasion. so i along with representative caster have introduced legislation in july, hr-3099, the race family caregiver act which would implement the recommendation of the federal commission on long-term care that congress require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers similar in scope to the national strategy developed to address alzheimer's disease. the bipartisan legislation would require the development, nape nance and updating of an integrated national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers. i think this is an under reported issue. unless you are living in the
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middle of it, a lot of people don't understand what is going through -- my mother is almost 92. we're going through issues with sitters and ourselves trying to take care of her and deal with those issues. and it's a difficult problem for a lot of families. and we deal with constant -- i can tell from personal experience for a number of years, we had phone calls, credit card offered, switch your credit card over here, do this, change your phone service to the cable and then you don't like that and you can change back and we lose our phone number. we finally were able to get to the point and hopefully this will be something to help families that are doing this is to tell that person to say, i won't do anything until you talk to so and so, my son, my
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daughter, my trusted family member. and those things sometimes will help. but this is a question for mr. kauffman and miss canon. do you have a -- you mentioned some but do you have particular education materials or guides for these care givers and others in a fiduciary position to seni seniors? how are lawyers and financial institutions dealing with the risk of fraud against their elderly clients? >> at the ftc, we have a wide range of consumer materials available. we have materials that are focused specifically for seniors, our pass it on campaign has been highly effective. the cfpb has more materials on care givers and financial institutions of that nature. i think i might defer to my colleague here. >> thank you.
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>> take your time. >> i'm actually very happy to have this opportunity to tell you about one of our very popular publications which we call managing someone else's money. these are how to user friendly guides for non-professional if i dush aris. people taking care of financial matters for a family member or friend. it includes information that helps the lay fiduciary know what their responsibilities and duties are. in other words, if you are caring for someone and you have access to their money, it's not okay to buy a car with those funds. simply things like that which should be known but unfortunately sometimes there is some confusion. in addition, in these guides we include information about how to spot scams and frauds and what
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you can do to protect the person who you are caring for as a financial caregiver. we have these national guides. we are in the process of embarking on rolling out state specific guides including a template which would allow states to do their own as well. >> you mentioned you had 63,000 complaints involving people 62 years of age and older. you mentioned mortgage related, debt collection. of course, we have the federal fair debt collection practices act that deals with a lot of that. of that 63,000, you're not saying all 63,000 were fraud? you're saying those were complaints that were registered, correct in. >> correct. that's correct. >> if in the time that i have for both you mr. kauffman and miss canon as well, i'm very interested in the cross agency initiatives that protect seniors from fraud, abuse, neglect and exploitati
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exploitation. would you both very quickly discuss your work with the elder justice coordinating council, whether the council's efforts have been constructive toward your agency's efforts and what do you think could be improved. if i may be allowed to continue, mr. chairman, to an answer on that? >> proceed. >> thank you. >> we are members of the council. we have participated in a number of events. we have partners with organizations throughout the country, senior organizations. we found it to be effective for sharing information with other law enforcement agencies. i can't think of any improvements at the moment. >> yes. we're one of the 11 federal agencies. we have been very active in participating in the elder justice coordinating council. we find it very helpful for coordinating our actions. each agency brings to the table different expertise and different jurisdictions. it's clearly a situation where we need all hands on deck. our work often will compliment
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those of our sister agency. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. kennedy, five minutes for questions. >> thank you. appreciate it. always a pleasure to hear you get massachusetts out as often as we can from our friends from texas. the distinguished panel, thank you for being here. i wanted to focus on an aspect of medicare if we can. the open enrollment started october 15 and runs through december 7. for the nation's 54 million beneficiaries, this is an important time to consider changes to their health and drug plan. however, they should be vigilant as this offered an opportunity for fraud. a common request from medicare scams is that a victim reveal their medicare number. it's important our seniors know how easily it is to spot these open enrollment scams. i would like to start with you,
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m mr. kauffman. i understand the ftc won a complaint after filing a complaint against a telemarketing scheme designed to trick and did trick seniors by pretending to be part of the medicare. could you describe the specifics of that case and why that victory is so important for consumers? >> sure. thank you for acknowledging this case. it's a very important case. it's sun bright. telemarketers were claiming to be affiliated with medicare. they falsely promised new cards for consumers and required people to provide their bank account numbers. they used the numbers to withdraw several hundred dollars from the consumers. it's very consistent with cases we have seen where they are misrepresenting affiliations with government entities to scam consumers out of personal and financial benefits. >> how does the ftc coordinate with cms to prevent this type of fraud? >> we do work with them. we talk to them.
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we also issue alerts. when there are changes in health benefits that are public available, we know frauds will follow. that's one thing we have seen. when there's a new program, a new scare, frauds will follow from it. we will always issue alerts and scam alerts and blog about it. >> so everyone is clear, mr. kauffman, is it true that medicare will never call or e-mail seniors for -- with products offered or for request for their medicare number? >> that is correct. they will not ask for your bank account information in particular. >> insurance agents are not allowed to visit your home to sell or endorse any medicare products? >> that is my understanding. i would have to verify that and get back to you. >> my understanding as well. thank you. what should consumers do if they or someone they know received one of these fake medicare solicitations? >> hopefully, they have not provided their information. if they have, they should contact their bank immediately and try to rectify the situation. file a complaint with the ftc.
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>> great. thank you very much, sir. any of the other witnesses have anything to add? with that i yield back. >> i was just going to dig in my purse for my medicare card. every once in a while we hear from people who say, how come social security numbers are on the medicare card. it's in the wallets of everybody who is over 65. we're told that it would be very cumbersome and costly to change that. is that a bad idea? either one of you can answer. it's right there. that's the number. when we talk about medicare number, it's social security number. >> i'm not sure about this. i do have to -- i will look into
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it for you. but i believe in the medicare reform that we passed in march and april of this year, the removal of the social security, that was one of the provisions added to the bill called macro passed earlier this year, that repealed the sustainable growth rate formula. will find out about that. that was a weakness inherent in the system. >> i very much agree with you. it's important social security numbers not be share order readily accessible. we would be glad to talk to you more about that issue. >> maybe we did fix it. that's good. >> every now and then we fix something. the chair recognizes the gentleman from oklahoma for five minutes for questions. >> i can honestly, i can't tell you what a card for medicare looks like. >> you will. >> anyway, thank you so much for being here. something started happening to us about a month ago in our
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office which was very odd. we started getting people calling us saying they received a call from our office. pertaining pertaining to getting personal information. it worries me because the trust we have built with our constituents is getting phone calls from people that supposedly being from our office. i can imagine in business we use a rule that you only receive roughly around 1% of your actual complaints. i would wonder if that would play true that i'm only receiving about 1% of those that are receiving those calls. is there an enforcement that can -- do we lack enforcement? do we lack the ability to go after these individuals even if we get their information? what is the penalty for doing this? one of you, can you talk on
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that? >> we have seen a rise in imposter scams. i have received calls that people have been contacted by me that were not contacted be my. the ftc is bringing actions when be can find the perpetrators. we can only bring civil actions. we know criminal law enforcement is looking at it as well. consumer education is an important focus here. >> we talk about consumer education. but i will use my grandparents, for example. they are checked out. i'm not saying that in a bad way. my grandpa is 94 years old. grandma is i think 89. they're not reading these manuals that come out. they're not getting online. they're not reading this stuff. we're talking about the most vulnerable, ones that didn't grow up with computers, one that has a cell phone but the numbers are this big on it. information is for younger generations, not these older generations.
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>> i would encourage you to look at our pass it on brochure. we have a one pager on imposter scams. it's three paragraphs like. it describes what scams are, what they're trying to do and what consumers should do. we researched with seniors to find out ways to communicate it. >> i get that. but what i'm saying is, is there an enforcement problem here? because it's growing. it's not going backwards. obviously, it's profitable or they wouldn't do it. how can we help you on the enforcement side of it? there has to be someone knowing that if you do this, there's a better chance you will get caught than not. >> we continue to bring cases. there's more that we can do. we're getting more and more criminal law enfosment agencies interested. i think the combination of the ftc working with other law enforcement agency is starting to make a dent. but it's a problem. >> mr. harris, i believe if i understand it correctly, guys have recovered roughly -- is it $50 million in stolen asset ss?
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>> yes. >> maybe what we work together here. if they are recovering that out of one county, i'm just floored. >> i think, you know, we, too, are a civil litigation organization. for us, the more practical thing is to get the money back because they need it. the people we work with need it. i think that criminal enforcement is important. when first became public guardian almost 11 years ago, i think it was fewer criminal cases being brought against people because of problems with witnesses and record keeping. but since then, it has increased, the amount of litigation both from the state's attorney's office in cook county as well as the u.s. attorney's office. >> what i'm trying to get to is, what is the most effective tools you are using to make that happen in one county to recover $50 million? >> we largely work with the probate act. there's a specific section
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called the citations section. we can recover properties exbezeled, stolen, concealed. so it's really just us lawyers doing our work and doing our job. >> how do you find the people? >> we get referrals from all sources, from banks, neighbors, churches, hospitals. once we have an intake and if they qualify, those are cases we go after. >> basically, you have to spend the time? you have to have the resources to be able to spend the time? >> that's true. when first became public guardian, we had one person working on it. because of the growth in this area, we have added more resources. and i work on it and other people as well. >> mr. harris, i appreciate it. i do appreciate what you are doing. i really think we're going to have to step up the enforcement side. as i go back to say what i said earlier, we have to make it to
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where they believe there's a better chance they're going to get caught than a slim chance they're going to get caught. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentle lady from indiana, five minutes for your questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in my home state of indiana, our attorney general is taking a lead in combating fraud targeting seniors. six years august they launched a free senior protection workshop that traveled to all counties in indiana and reached over 200,000 elderly. i appreciate that we have to take a multi-level approach in working on this, whether it's the federal, state or local levels. i do have to say that when you think about retirement security -- i talk about security a lot and retirement security is part of that when i'm out talking with constituents. people often are embarrassed, they don't want to share if they've been scammed.
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i appreciate the work that you all are doing. they don't want to share with their families. they don't want to share -- they don't want to talk about it. it might take a while for them to realize it. i'm curious -- i'm a former u.s. attorney. i'm curious whether or not any u.s. attorney offices, whether in the civil division or criminal division, are engaged. i know they are on identity theft. that's something that we have been working on for a very, very long time. as the justice department has worked on it. i'm curious whether or not any of you are working with any u.s. attorneys offices on any task forces or civil, whether it's civil division or criminal division. this is for any of you. >> we work with a number of u.s. attorneys throughout the country. we have a criminal liaison unit. we realize that a lot of our cases should be prosecuted criminally. we provide referrals, lead, information, support to criminal law enforcement since we started
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this program in 2003. well over 700 of our defendants have been prosecuted. >> terrific. >> so i'm in the consumer education and engagement division in the bureau. i would have to get back to you regarding whether our enforcement team are engaged with u.s. attorneys. i suspect they are. i know that we are in frequent contact with the department of justice and we have frequent communications with d.a.s around the country who are prosecuting elder exmroe taploitation and a. >> we do with the u.s. attorney's office. i think the relationships have developed over the years. working with cases and so that -- it has worked out very well. we have worked with the postal inspectors on some cases as well. i think it becomes for us a
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relationship building. and i think we have established that at least in chicago. >> thank you. just with respect to your respective agencies, i'm curious, how many people work on this specifically? how many ftes going back to my days in -- how many are focused on this? >> at the ftc, we don't have our attorneys designated as working specifically on senior issues. they are spread throughout our bureau. we have about 440 people in the bureau of consumer protection working on a wide range of issues. we have brought a number of cases affecting seniors. it's an area of interest throughout our bureau. >> thank you. >> our office is small. we're determined and dedicated but we're small. we're under ten full-time employees. we have the benefit of being able to work with other divisions and offices throughout the bureau. when we become aware of a particular problem where it appears that it may include violations of the law, we bring
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in other divisions that have the ability to engage in enforcement or supervision. we also have a markets division and research division, too. so we are frequently working -- even though we're small, we have the benefit of being able to work with others around the bureau. >> thank you. when the ftc does on those rare occasions when you recover the funds, how is it determined -- how do you ensure the victims ever receive the funds? >> that's always our first priori priority, if there's enough money to give back to consumers. we get lists and we will do distribution. there are cases where we were successful. there are cases where the funds are no longer available and we can't find them. our number one priority -- number one is stopping the conduct. number two is getting money back to consumers. >> how does that happen actually? >> we actually have a redress office in our bureau that coordinating. we have contractors we work with. depending on the nature of the fraud, often we will have
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customer lists and we can send out checks. sometimes there might be a claims process. it varies depending upon how the consumers were defrauded. >> one last question, if i might. how do we make sure, mr. harris, when so many of these financial abuse go underreported, underprosecuted, what would you like for us to do? >> well, i think that one of the things that is lacking is our organizations like mine. not just necessarily that do guardianship but that focus on recovering monies on a local level for seniors. there's a lot of people we can't help. if there's some way the federal government can support legal assistance foundations or other legal services for establishing attorneys in those offices that focus specifically on this area, i think that would be very helpful. >> thank you all for your work. i yield back.
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>> chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina, mr. butterfield. >> thank you very much for convening this important hearing today. thank you to the three witnes s witnesses. mr. harris, i'm not going to be able to get to you today. these questions are directed to the other two. don't take that personally. i know a little bit about the cook county public guardian program. it's one of the best in the nation. what was your predecessor's name, the gentleman there before you. >> patrick murphy. >> that was his name. my daughter -- stepdaughter used -- don't get surprised. that was my stepdaughter. she worked for patrick for some years there in chicago. i never heard of the public guardian program until she went to work there. i have the greatest amount of respect. thank you for the work that you do. >> thank you. >> the federal -- the ftc recently created aid program commission reaches out to older he were americans with
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information about avoiding common types of fraud by contacting them at places where they gather and interact like libraries, clubs and adult living facilities. mr. kauffman, you can explain why that approach might be more effective at disseminating the anti-fraud information than, say, publishing the information on a website or even a mailer? >> absolutely. we engaged in research before we instituted the pass it on program. we met with seniors, we met with people who provide support for seniors. we discussed the best way to effectively communicate information in short, clear, concise information on specific topics. we have given away 3 million copies of it to i think it's more than 8,000 different organizations around the country. there's a lot of research and thinking that went through it. we're going to issue additional aspects in the coming year. >> the pass it on initiative seems to emphasize the importance of striking the right tone, in educating seniors about
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fraudulent schemes, that is respectful and non-judgmental. do you find seniors respond better to advice given to them by people of their own age, their own generation? how can the financial literacy community owner this preference going forward? >> our research has shown that it's an effective tool. this is a campaign we launched about a year ago. we're continuing to explore it. it has shown effectiveness. it has been very successful. we have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the program and will continue to monitor it and see thousand can be modify and improved over time. >> as someone who also promotes financial literacy, do you agree with this approach inh general? >> yes, we do. we have very similar materials in that -- at least the type of materials that are written in plain language, that are non-judgmental.
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we frequently will actually use the ftc's materials, the pass it on materials. we go to conferences together and share tables and distribute our materials jointly. >> the ftc conducted a workshop in october of last year that explored some of these issues, including how fraud affects different communities in different ways. mr. kauffman, what were some of the outcomes from this workshop in terms of the senior community, to consumer groups and the industry know how to address the problems that are really unique? >> our every community initiative, we kicked it off about a year ago, actually pass it on is one of the results of that. we realized we had experts on senior issue thas. we focused on issues affecting spanish speaking americans, african-americans. that continues to be a very important issue for us. we are looking for law enforcement action and targets
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where they target specific populations. we want to make sure that our law enforcement and education programs reach all americans. >> very well said. i thank all three of you. i'm going to p set a record today. i have to be in the cannon building in 30 seconds. i will yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentleman from kentucky. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. i've been in another hearing of the subcommittee of the same committee. i apologize if i missed some of it. i'm going to ask you a couple questions on your regional offices. how involved are your regional offices in combating fraud against the elderly? >> our regional offices, we have eight throughout the country, are incredibly involved. they do a good deal of our litigation, a lot of our fraud work. they do a lot of outreach on the local level.
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our regional offices provide enormous benefits to the bureau. it's very important to us that that he are there and they are on the ground and bringing actions and doing outreach. >> so i may have to get back to you with more detailed information. because i don't want to say anything that may be incorrect. it's my understanding that our ren regional offices are occupied by our examiners. we have a full team of examiners that are examining financial institutions. nonetheless, in our headquarters, we have a nationwide approach. our enforcement actions are nationwide. our consumer education engagement is nationwide as well. >> do either of you -- maybe it's not applicable to you given the set-up of your regional offices. do you measure this as a regional level to see if there are target or scams that are in
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one area more than other? >> yes, absolutely. we are frequently going through our consumer complaints just as one example. in the process of doing that, we look for geographical spikes in complaint and things of that sort. in addition, we are frequently conferring with stake holders that are nationwide around the country, having calls and hearing from people on the ground about particular problems that they are seeing. >> at the ftc, we have hosted 30 we get together law enforcers from other federal agency, local authorities, we have a discussion and it's a way to develop relationships and to keep abreast of the trends that are happening. >> thank you. mr. kauffman, actually -- mr.
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butterfield went down the panel i was going down. you said you will look at the effectiveness of the pass it on. i know you have other programs. how do you measure the effect? >> it's challenging to measure effectiveness in fraud. that's something we wrestle with. we do a lot of education. our materials seem to be popular. we get a lot of requests for t. we have organizations that take our materials and stamp their logo on it and use it. we're delighted when they do that. we want to get the message out. measuring afek tifrness is challenging. we keep bringing more cases. that's one measure of our success. the receptiveness people have to our sterlz one measure as well. it's a challenge to precisely measure how effective are we being. we see whether consumers are satisfied. we have done well. >> a lot of times hard to measure the crime that you prevent from being committed.
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it's hard to find that. i understand that. thank you. i will join mr. butterfield in yielding back time. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> thank you. i thank the panel for their testimony. mr. kauffman, in your testimony you state the importance of the ftc recognizing trends and fraud against the elderly as the population of older americans continues to grow. as you may know, the census estimates the number of seniors 65 and over will surpass americans underage 18 for the first time. actually, we're 18 years away from that, 2033. what resources is the ftc putting toward following trends in fraud against the elderly, allocating resources to enforce against criminal targeting the elderly and educating seniors of the risk? >> it's an important priority area for us. our database which has millions
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of complaints is an incredibly important tool for us. it's self-reported information we get as well as other law enforcement agencies. they put it into this database. we're frequently analyzing it, looking for friend trends and developments. we're tcontinuing to do more outreach. it's an important priority for us. >> i want to commend you. i have had several seminars in my area. you participated, the ftc has. they have done a wonderful job. is there -- maybe this question also is for mr. harris. is there a line, maybe anonymous line, where someone, a friend of a loved one who is having trouble, an elderly person is having trouble or maybe has been taken advantage of, where a person can call and report an incident?
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>> we collect complaints at ftc.gov/complaints. we have a toll free number. >> very good. >> sir, is there a number -- i know that you do a wonderful job. most seniors do not qualify for your services. do you refer some seniors to other programs where they can be helped? also, is there an anonymous line or maybe a 211 -- we have 211 in florida where a person can call and be made aware of some of the services. specifically, is there an anonymous line where maybe a friend of a loved one who is having difficulty can share those concerns with your particular program? >> with my office, you can call our office directly at 312-603-0800. we would refer you to either an adult protective services agency
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that's monitored by the state of illinois or the city of chicago or you can call 311, quite frankly, in chicago and get help in that way as well. >> what are the way that you gather information with regard to maybe candidates that need your services? >> we talk to their medical providers, doctors. we also have some power -- investigatory power to look at previous reports of adult abuse or exploitation of some of our wards. we also have some access to financial records vis-a-vis an investigatory process if we open it for an intake. we use subpoena power. once we have a case that's opened. and other legal tools like depositions and other discovery tools. >> very good. thank you. i will follow the trend and
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yield back my time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. the chair just does want to obsero -- my understanding -- i have crack staff who are watching me and they provided me the information, i think it's within four years, it's an agreement between the secretary of health and human sfrs services and th change that's coming, it's not going to be an immediate change if anyone gets their medicare card, it may well not reflect the change. it was passed by the house and senate, signed into law by the president. one of those times where things did work as intended. seeing there are no further members wishing to ask questions for the first panel, i wanted to thank our witnesses for being here today. this will conclude our first panel. we will take a two-minute recess
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to set up for the second panel.
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i want to welcome everyone back and thank you for your patience. we will move into the second panel. we will follow the same format as the first. each witness will be given five minutes for an opening statement followed by a round of questions from members. for our second panel, we want to become professor charles wallace, the program director for computer science at michigan technical university, and ms. toby stanger, senior editor for consumer reports. we appreciate you being here. we will begin with you, professor wallace.
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>> thank you, members of the subcommittee for the opportunity to speak at this meeting. the students in my math course who get the day off also thank you. my name is charles wallace. i'm an associate professor of computer science. we are a research focused university in michigan with an emphasis on technology, engineering and scientific degree programs. for the past four years, our breaking digital barriers group has organized and participating in a program in conjunction with the local public library called online at the brlibrary that trains elderly citizens in digital literacy skills and exposes our students to the reality faced by digital non-natives. we have identified recurring
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themes of these. the theme most germane is anxiety versus exploration. lacking appropriate grounding, our senior patrons alternate between naive trust and paralyzing suspicion, neither of which leads to comfortable productive use. our program addresses this program by providing a safe place for learning among peers, interaction with mentors who model appropriate use and develop a healthy balance between caution and exploration. residents over age 65 constitute over 15% of the population of our rural area. because of the larger than average number of elders without family support, many of whom are below the poverty line, there's a strong need to help with digital literacy in this community. the experience of using a computing device is well-known to cause anxiety in elders and our experiences bear this out. many are fearful of going online
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because of stories of fraud and identity theft. because of basis for how this works, they have no model to minimize their threat level. anything can be a threat. many learners fear using a computer all together. one unfortunate of that is the reluctance to explore. for newcomers to a software product or service, this is a vital form of learning, exploration. to complicate matters further, in practice, it's far from clear whether a user is a victim of true criminals or addreggressiv businesses. a 60-year-old computer user runs a small service based local business. he paid a company hundreds of dollars because they convinced him that his business needed to be on prioritized search lists. however, he did not know what the service was or how it helped
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his business. how he could access his accounts with a service or where he would be able to see the effects of the service. after several months he attended as a participant in the library help sessions and described his experience. tutors explained what they have for. being searchable as an advertisement on search engines does not help him. in this case, mitch was not a victim of fraud or theft strictly speaking, but paid a legitimate business to help him without understanding the services he was paying for. it is clear basic literacy and secure online behavior is an essential weapon in fighting fraud against the elderly. we believe they have been represent kabul learning model, safe place for learning, asking potentially embarrassing questions and gaining strength
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from seeing peers in the same position. personal contact with mentors who can monitor behavior and attitudes. development of healthy online behavior. keeping seniors safe without stifling their creativity and productive energy. breaking digital barriers. members are developing as sociotechnical approach to help older learners with strategies for navigating the internet. this approach involves small interactive group learning activities, along with software tools to help them with navigation. over the next two years, breaking digital barriers will help similar learning programs around the upper peninsula of michigan and through the rest of michigan. more information can be found at our breaking digital barriers website, mt.edu/mdb.
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>> thank you. you will be recognized for five minutes for questions please. >> chairman burgess, ranking kpheb what cow skeu, committee members, thank you for allowing me to speak. i'm senior editor of "consumer reports". and i also represent advo case arms senior union. "consumer reports", which is better known for highlighting cars, would highlight elder scams. it is at its core a consumer issue. people have a right to expect their hard-earned savings are protected. when i was asked to testify i was a bit nervous. but then i thought about edna smietz, an 86-year-old great-grandmother from harvey, north dakota who had the courage to testify in federal court earlier this year from a man from jamaica scamming seniors in
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a sweepstakes scandal. she lost $300,000, her life savings. edna was angry and she wanted her money back. in spite of being nervous and scared, she spoke out. sadly, her money may never be returned but she helped convict a bad guys. she was one of eight victims who spoke on elder scams that you mentioned that appeared in consumer reports. i'm truly grateful for the willingness to have their names and portraits published. theyed they did it to warn other people so they might be scared. most elder fraud cases go unreported. the victims are embarrassed and ashamed. among other things, they're scared if they tell, people will think they are unsophisticated or stupid, or losing their cognitive abilities. but honestly, these scams can victimize anyone. criminals catch people off guard. they sound very convincing.
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they require the victims to make very quick decisions and they insist on secrecy. this is their job. they do it all day long. their tactics could work on anyone in the right circumstances. but the scammers know that seniors, in part because they're proud and want to retain their dignity, off keep quiet. so we don't hear about these crimes as often as we should. and that's my point today. these scams are rampant. they are growing in number and couple blessity. they run the gamut from sketchy phone and mail solicitations to financial advisers. we need to document them better. seniors need to feel safe about speaking up about their victimization and getting help. they are concerned about losing independence if they admit they have been taken. or need help getting caught in the first place. but there are measures they can take that preserve their dignity and independence. for example, a web-based service called ever safe that identifies
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any opportunity in a senior's account and then sends alert to the senior or to an entrusted adult child or third party. but the senior doesn't have to allow direct access to the can take control. "consumer reports" says sign up for the federal do not call registry and the mail preference service to reduce unwanted calls and mail. we have recommended call blocking machines that block robo calls, which can be the basis of phone scams. notably we found a free robo call blocking service called no robo. it is not available on traditional land lines which is what seniors be often have. there is no reason why it can't be made available on land lines but the three top providers don't offer them. the consumers union has an end robo calls campaign that has gathered half a million petition
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signatures. we are soon going to deliver to the phone companies to demand that free more effective tools be offered. these developments can help stem elder scams. but they must be supplemented by communication and education. exploitation needs to be part of the national conversation. we have published articles about it. other publications. i would love to see a hollywood movie on this. it is a plot with poignant stories, heroic investigators and victims, piles of money, and even some exotic locations. thankfully, some seniors are willing to speak out. there is an acting troupe in los angeles called the stop senior scams programs. the oldest is 97. they are all seniors. they write skits dramatizing scams and perform them in senior centers. some have been scammed themselves so they can speak for
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themselves. many come up and report they too have been scammed. they might not be willing to tell their own families but they will tell their peers. seniors themselves need to feel it is safe to talk about it with law enforcement, adult protective services, peers and their families. as one of the actors in the program said, don't keep it a secret. you're not the only one. thank you. >> thank you. and i thank both of you for your testimony. we will begin the question on this side. mr. harper five minutes for questions, please. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thanks to you both for being here. some great stories. i know your class is very excited today. they're probably watching as we speak. just in case they are theare.
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you put together the piece for "consumer reports". what was the most shocking thing you learned while you were researching the article? >> i think the most shocking thing is that it is so rampant. it seems everywhere. every person i turn to in the elder justice community and adult protective services. when i would call and say they were doing this. they would say, thank you. we need to have this publicized. please, it's everywhere. in my own family with my husband and i together we could think of four instances of various abuse situations. it is everywhere. it is really underreported. it was hard to get eight people to talk with me. it took a lot of effort. and i'm very grateful for their bravery. because people are afraid to talk. so the conversation i think needs to change to not being afraid. >> and it's so humiliating for them not to share that. and they would rather just suffer in silence. it doesn't take a lot of courage
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to do that. i know dealing in the last year with a gentleman, senior, who fell for one of the scams of send us some money and you're going to get a lot of money approximate pack. he was thinking this will help me give my adult kids graduate school and take care of my wife. and we said don't do it. and he did it anyway. and he kept doing it to the tune of probably most of his savings. even though his wife, you know -- i don't know yet that he still has grasped what he's done. and it's a very difficult thing. when you have people that can't really control that, they fall prey to that and they don't have someone overseeing, it's very difficult. i know in your article you talk about some of the great senior-led initiatives to educate their peers about the fraud risk. have you seen any similar initiatives to educate
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caregivers and what experience with the caregivers did you have in your research? >> well, i think the cfpb's program that they talked about where they have several booklets to educate caregivers and people who have fiduciary duty over senior accounts, i think those are helpful. those are pretty new. they are being promulgated in different states. >> right. >> so i think that's very helpful. >> but, yes, i think caregivers need more education. it's something that we can start to do in our publication. i spoke with one woman. exactly the same thing. father and mother were involved in the scam and she did not know how to stop them. >> right. >> so widespread education can be very useful. >> sure. >> i found a victim specialist from the fbi in los angeles w

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