Submission Number: 00005
Received: 7/11/2012 7:27:23 PM
Commenter: Anita Salustro
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: FTC Seeks Public Input on How Identity Theft Impacts Senior Citizens; Project No. P065411
Attachments: No Attachments
Reporting: Understanding the extent of identity theft among the senior population is difficult with so many agencies collecting statistics. The FTC is the lead agency. The state Attorney Generals, the CFPB, local law enforcement take complaints too. Be a true "repository." Compile reports, complaints, and reach out to federal, state, and local agencies.
Advice: home care fraud is rampant. Develop a full blown campaign about home care fraud and abuse. Partner with CMS and AoA. Develop messaging, talking points, and a public campaign. Instruct Medicare beneficiaries to check out any offer of "free" home care before signing on. Continue messages for telemarketing: just hang up, don't talk to strangers, know before you go...
Advice: financial advisors. FINRA is leading the charge on making sure that would be investors check the credentials of financial advisors. Promote the work of FINRA. Are seniors continuing to be scammed by bad investment advice? I'm not sure. Investment fraud was a hot topic from 2001 - 2008 when seniors had money to invest and they were prey to "free lunch" pitches. Is this a problem in 2012?
What can the FTC do: create blogs for each of the scams that target seniors. Examples: (1)the WalMart gift card scam (2) the Obama utility payment scam (3) the diabetic test strip scam. Seniors by the thousands, if not millions, were scammed by these three alone. We need a website that collects anecdotes and "reader comments" about these scams, as the New York Times does for its articles.
You are addressing identity theft as experienced by older people. Which kinds of identity theft are "owned" by the FTC? Consumer advocates like me are confused by competing agencies. The CFPB, FINRA, the FTC, and other federal agencies need to decide how to handle identify theft and then make it easy for the consumer to take action. Most importantly though, is beefing up all of the channels to alert the public when these scams surface. Please let me know how I can help.