President Biden signs spending bill to fight senior citizen scams and fentanyl battle
Tools designed to curb a rise in opioid overdose deaths, as well as scams targeting seniors nationwide, were enacted this week by President Joe Biden week as part of a $1.5 trillion spending bill.
U.S. Representative Vern BuchananR-Longboat Key, celebrated the measures he helped put in place, including one to protect the elderly, which he and Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch have been working on for years.
“Scams targeting seniors threaten more than retirement accounts – they jeopardize the independence and confidence of an already vulnerable population,” Buchanan said in a prepared statement.
“For nearly nine years, my colleague MP Deutch and I have been fighting to protect senior citizens and help them avoid scams and fraud. I am delighted to finally see the Senior Fraud Prevention Act enacted and to protect the savings and dignity of Americans as they enter their golden years from those who attempt to defraud them.
Buchanan’s office noted that according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, scams targeting seniors cost more than $3 billion a year. Older people are also less likely to report fraud because they don’t know how or because they are ashamed of falling into the trap.
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Fentanyl abuse on the rise
The Southwest Florida region has been at the center of the opioid epidemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of local residents struggling with drug addiction.
Manatee County became the epicenter of Florida’s raging epidemic when opioid overdose deaths rose to prominence in 2015 and 2016, and the the rise of fentanyl has again fueled a rise in deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and just two milligrams is enough to kill most Americans,” Buchanan said. “These illegal drugs are destroying lives and families not just in our backyards here in Southwest Florida, but across the country. It is clear that we need to do much more to combat this growing epidemic.
To help fight abuse, Congress allocated a $2 million increase in grant funding to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration through its appropriations program. This increase brings the total amount of grants available to $14 million for fiscal year 2022.
Previously, Buchanan introduced the FIGHT Fentanyl Act, which is another piece of legislation aimed at addressing the fentanyl epidemic. It would permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs to allow federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal charges against those who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances. .
Since 2018, fentanyl and related substances have been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule I substances on a temporary basis, receiving a series of extensions over the years. The last extension expires at the end of 2022.
The FIGHT Fentanyl Act was not approved, but was endorsed by the sheriffs of Manatee, Sarasota, and Hillsborough counties as well as Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and First Step of Sarasota.
Protect seniors from scams
The Senior Fraud Prevention Act creates a special advisory office under the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs to alert consumers to new scams.
The office will work to prevent common scams against seniors, such as raffle and charity scams, fraudulent investment schemes and internet fraud.
Contest scams usually occur in the form of a call, email, or even direct mail offering the recipient congratulations on winning a contest, but claiming that the victim has to pay a fee, taxes or shipping charges to collect the reward.
Charity scams often mimic real charities and solicit donations, often with a sense of immediacy, by bombarding people with robocalls, direct mail or pop-up notifications to fraudulently collect money from victims.
Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said, “I’m proud to see our country take significant steps to protect seniors, who are too often targeted by scammers trying to confuse them and steal their property.
“We are finally taking steps toward a robust federal effort to strengthen important consumer protections; to track, target and warn seniors against these fraudulent schemes; and to ensure that older people can live their lives in peace and dignity, safer from this threat. »