Federal agencies recently have been cracking down on harmful uses of artificial intelligence, and last week, US senators asked the Federal Trade Commission to deliver on its promise to take action to protect older adults from the dangers of AI.

Friday, US Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ranking Member Mike Braun (R-IN) sent a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan requesting information on the agencies’ efforts and strategies to protect older Americans from AI-related fraud and scams.

Long-term care, in particular, is at high risk for cybersecurity attacks and AI-related threats, as bad actors hack into systems or use QR codes to steal resident records or other personal information for use in identity theft schemes. Increasingly, scammers also have used AI to impersonate loved ones to scam older adults out of money, the senators said.

Last month, the FTC, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a joint pledge against harmful uses of AI. Citing its ability to “turbocharge fraud” and “automate discrimination,” the four agencies pledged to more strictly monitor and regulate the use of AI and automated systems. 

In Friday’s letter, the senators requested more information about the FTC’s plans to deliver on that pledge, asking what the agency’s understanding of recent developments in AI-related scams is, what information and data FTC has on the prevalence of AI-related scams, what steps the agency is taking or preparing to protect older Americans from AI-based fraud, and whether the FTC will update its counter-scam educational and awareness materials to account for the rising risks.

In their letter, the senators cited several examples of AI-related fraud schemes aimed at older Americans, including the use of chatbots to mimic writing styles to find personal information and generate convincing fake documents, as well as “deep fake” videos and AI-generated images that let scammers impersonate loved ones to steal money from seniors.

“For older Americans, targeted by countless scams every year that result in multi-million dollar financial losses, anxiety, and even anguish, this threat of powerful, newly enhanced fraud is acute,” the letter said.