Casey Calls on FTC to Prevent Supermarkets, Retailers from Selling Seniors’ Private Information

New Reports Allege that Increase in Scams Against Seniors is Connected to Selling of Private Data

Casey: Supermarkets, Major Retail Companies Shouldn’t be Allowed to Enable Scammers

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on the ability of supermarkets and retail stores to sell the private information of seniors. New reports indicate that scams against seniors are on the rise and that the ability of companies to sell their private data plays a significant role.

“Supermarkets and retail stores have no place enabling criminals to scam Pennsylvania’s seniors, and the FTC should immediately step in to stop this practice,” Senator Casey said. “While scammers are working night and day to prey on our seniors, the federal government should be working to close down every avenue that allows this to happen. Ending the ability of big companies to sell seniors’ private information is a good place to start.”

New reports suggest that financial fraud against seniors is on the rise. Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging reported 2,700 cases of financial exploitation last year; a jump of 600 cases over the previous year.  Though the details of the fraud vary from case to case, it is clear that the victims have been targeted by sophisticated criminals who prey upon their vulnerabilities. In many cases, scammers are able to receive seniors’ private information when supermarkets and retail stores sell the information to marketers. In his letter, Senator Casey called on the FTC to prohibit companies from selling this private information so seniors are better protected.

Senator Casey’s letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz is below:

Dear Mr. Leibowitz:

I write to you today to request your immediate attention to a growing problem in Pennsylvania and beyond—financial scams against senior citizens.  Given the impact on our seniors, I ask that the Federal Trade Commission evaluate how the agency may provide greater protection to individuals against these crimes.

A November 19, 2011, article in the Allentown Morning Call reports that cases of financial fraud against seniors are on the rise in Pennsylvania.  According to the report, Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging reported 2,700 cases of financial exploitation last year; a jump of 600 cases over the previous year.  Though the details of the fraud vary from case to case, it is clear that the victims have been targeted by sophisticated criminals who prey upon their vulnerabilities. 

The Federal Trade Commission may be able to help combat these crimes before they are perpetrated.  Apparently, seniors’ names and other information can be easily gathered from lists of customer information collected by retail and grocery stores.  I ask the Commission to please look into these practices immediately to see if your agency can provide greater privacy protection to seniors, including perhaps preventing retailers from selling certain identifying information to outside sources.  In the event additional Congressional action is needed, I look forward to working with your agency to ensure we have the proper safeguards in place to guard against these types of targeted crimes. 

Thank you for your attention to this issue. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

###