House Passes Elderly Fraud Education Bill

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The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill this week that would boost efforts to educate older Americans about the dangers of fraudulent investment opportunities and sweepstakes claims.

The Protecting Seniors From Fraud Act -- S-3164 -- was written by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-IN, and was passed unanimously by the Senate last month. President Clinton is expected to sign it shortly.

The bill would authorize a federal grant of $1 million a year for five years for TRIAD, a community policing program that partners law enforcement agencies with senior volunteers to reduce crime against the elderly. The bill also would centralize efforts to educate American seniors and raise awareness about the dangers of fraud by creating a central clearinghouse for information to be distributed to each state by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Besides funding an educational program for seniors on sweepstakes and telemarketing fraud, the measure would establish a national clearinghouse to track consumer complaints and would require the FBI and other federal agencies to include statistics about those complaints in their annual crime victim surveys.

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