Recently, four US Senators – Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) – expressed deep concern about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in scams targeting older Americans. They addressed a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, requesting detailed information on the FTC’s efforts to track and combat these AI-enabled frauds and scams.
FTC’s Efforts and Inquiry
The Senators highlighted the increasing role AI plays in frauds and scams, particularly its realistic nature which often leaves victims unaware of being targeted by AI. They emphasized the urgency of understanding the extent of this threat to counter it effectively. The inquiry requests the FTC to share how it is gathering data on AI use in scams, ensuring accurate reflection in its Consumer Sentinel Network database. The Sentinel database serves as a repository for consumer complaints, including those about scams, and is accessible to law enforcement agencies.
Specific Concerns and Questions
The Senators’ letter raises specific concerns about AI’s role in exacerbating traditional scams, such as family emergency scams, romance scams, business-related scams, and phishing, where AI tools like chatbots, voice cloning, and deepfakes are used. They asked the FTC to detail how AI-powered frauds are identified and reported within Sentinel, the types of scams prevalent, and the use of AI by the FTC itself for data analysis. They also requested that the FTC identify generative AI scams that might go unnoticed by victims.
This letter comes in the wake of a broader crackdown by federal agencies on harmful uses of AI. The FTC, along with other agencies like the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has issued a joint pledge against harmful AI uses. The Senators are seeking more information on the FTC’s understanding of recent AI scam developments, the prevalence of such scams, steps being taken to protect older Americans, and whether the FTC will update its educational materials to reflect these rising risks.
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