INDIANAPOLIS – Congresswoman Victoria Spartz’s (R-Indiana) bipartisan legislation to combat crimes against seniors has passed the House.
The Elder Abuse Protection Act makes the federal Elder Justice Initiative permanent. The program was created under the Department of Justice during the Trump administration.
The legislation’s goal is to increase enforcement and awareness of abuse, neglect and financial scams targeting senior citizens.
“As a senior, I get calls all the time with credit card situations,” said Brad Smith, delegate for the Association of Mature American Citizens.
Smith, who is hoping to see those scams stopped, said his group helped Congresswoman Spartz and other lawmakers craft the Elder Abuse Protection Act.
“It’s hard to believe that people would take that kind of advantage of people that are susceptible,” Smith said.
“In the one year of its existence, one fiscal year, it recovered over $2 billion for seniors,” Rep. Spartz said. “So I think it’s an extremely important initiative. This is such an important issue to everybody.”
So far, the program led to fraud charges against nearly 1,000 defendants, according to Spartz’s office.
“I’m very proud that we put this in the code and hopefully we can work even further to help a lot of other people,” Spartz said.
Several advocacy groups for senior citizens support the legislation to help get more victims justice.
“You need to put the resources of the agencies like the Department of Justice to work to crack down on these perpetrators,” said Bob Blancato, national coordinator for the Elder Justice Coalition.
The bill now heads to the Senate before going to the president’s desk.