Folks…We’re Still Being Scammed!Stop the Madness with These Simple Steps

 I have been featuring articles focusing on the scams and exploitation tactics that have been targeted at seniors in Southwest Florida.  Sadly, however, statistics show that seniors continue to be victimized at an alarming rate.  Please take steps to protect yourself before you are a victim.  Be careful, informed and prepared!

Be aware that you are at risk from strangers – and those closest to you.  Over 90\% of all reported elder exploitation is committed by family members. Sadly enough, most often children and grandchildren are the culprits of financial deception.  Common tactics are to deplete joint checking accounts, promising and not delivering care in exchange for monetary compensation or property, and outright stealing right under the        victim’s nose.  Surround yourself with trusted, ensured, bonded, experienced professionals that can provide you with information and security.  When dealing with home repair or service providers, check the

Florida Department of Professional Regulation to verify appropriate licensing.

Never purchase anything from someone who calls or visits without being invited. This is especially true when dealing with charitable organizations.  If you are interested in the product or wish to know more about the charity, invite the solicitor to send you material that you can examine at your convenience. Legitimate companies and charitable organizations will never pressure you for money.  Remember, you are in control! 

 Shred, Shred, Shred. Identity theft is a profitable business for crooks. Monitor your bank and credit card statements and report any discrepancies immediately to your financial institution.

 Don’t give any personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call. Legitimate businesses and agencies will not call you asking for your personal information over the phone or email.

Sign up for the Do Not Call List.  Visit www.donotcall.gov, or call toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register to stop telemarketers from calling you.   This service is sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission.  Remember to register both your home and cell phones.

 If you suspect financial exploitation or a potential scam, report it to local law enforcement immediately.    LEAPP (Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership) is a local coalition advocating against elder abuse and exploitation.  To learn more about LEAPP, contact United Way 211.   For more information on assistance for seniors, contact the Elder Helpline toll-free at 1-866-413-5337.  

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Marilyn Gregory, Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator, Seniorchoices for Southwest Florida, Inc.  Elder Helpline 1-866-413-5337.