As the holiday season approaches, it becomes imperative to shed light on the significance of protecting our seniors from potential scams and elder abuse. The festive period, marked by generosity and warmth, unfortunately, also opens the door to opportunistic fraudsters preying on vulnerable individuals, particularly seniors.
Elderly individuals are often targeted due to their perceived trusting nature and potential unfamiliarity with evolving scam tactics. Holiday scams can take various forms, from fake charity solicitations to deceptive online shopping schemes. These scams not only pose a financial threat but can also have severe emotional and psychological consequences for seniors.
By emphasizing the importance of avoiding holiday scams, we aim to empower seniors and their caregivers with knowledge and awareness. Understanding common scam tactics enables seniors to identify red flags and take proactive measures to protect themselves. Encouraging open communication within families and communities is crucial, as it fosters an environment where seniors feel comfortable reporting suspicious activities.
We encourage you to learn more about holiday scams by listening to this podcast from AARP:
Statement they sign off on:
If your response to any of these questions is “yes”, please consider the following:
Verify you personally know the individual you are sending to or can confirm the legitimacy of the
business you are sending to.
· Scammers often impersonate friends or family members. Verify that the person you’re communicating
with truly is your friend or family member.
· Review the transaction and any concerns you have with your financial institution representative.
Fraud prevention is important for everyone, but especially for seniors who may be more vulnerable to scams and financial exploitation. This is especially relevant in the context of cryptocurrencies, which are still relatively new and can be confusing for those who are not familiar with them.
There are several ways that seniors can protect themselves from crypto-related fraud. Firstly, they should be cautious of unsolicited phone calls or emails that ask for personal information or investment opportunities. These are often scams designed to steal money or sensitive information.
Secondly, seniors should educate themselves on the basics of cryptocurrencies and how they work. This can help them to recognize when something seems too good to be true. Additionally, they should be aware of common scams in the crypto world, such as Ponzi schemes and fake new crypto currencies.
Finally, seniors should consider using a trusted financial advisor or investment professional when making decisions related to cryptocurrencies. These professionals can offer guidance and help seniors make informed decisions about their investments.
In summary, seniors can protect themselves from crypto-related fraud by being cautious of unsolicited communications, educating themselves on cryptocurrencies, and seeking professional advice when needed.
Our friends at the FBI have begun to place these warnings on crytpocurrency ATMs. We encourage people placing these ATMs in their businesses to be sure to place these warnings to prevent senior abuse and fraud.
Today Susan Bivens shared her story to the Governor's Conference on Aging for the State of Montana. She lost nearly $240,000 to a scammer that had convinced her that they were law enforcement and other government agencies. The scariest part was the scammers could actually track her leaving her home with her cell phone.
Before you say it might not happen to you or a loved one, remember that Susan is a smart and intelligent and connected human. She was a nurse and served her community for years. She has a great family. The scammers convinced her that telling anyone would get her in trouble. They used fear to trap her.
Best rule, if someone is asking for money that you don't know: Tell a trusted friend and talk it through with them.
Don't get trapped by fear, remember you are not alone. Contact someone you trust or give us a call at Big Sky Senior Services if you fear you are a victim of abuse. 406-259-3111
Read more about Susan here:
Hang up and tell a friend. Great advice from the FTC on tech support scams.
It happens frequently. A person gets a call, "I found your information online, and I think we are meant to be together. Call me and we can arrange how to connect." Then if the person is lonely enough they follow through, the person sounds convincing and everything they have ever desired. Usually, they live a world away, but the attention is nice. So, the victim sends just a little bit of money, then more and more to keep the attention coming. It doesn't feel quite right, but it helps with the loneliness. Then the person asks for a lot of money and to keep the attention the victim sends what could be there life savings.
70,000 people fell for romance scams in the US in 2022 and losses were nearly $1.3 Billion.
Hang up. Tell a friend. The reality is, this person does not care about you and friends do. Talk with them, find people who can support you and if you need more help call a local senior center.
Romance scammers just want to curb your loneliness for your cash, don't let them get it for fake connection. If you need local connection contact a local non-profit and ask where activities are happening in your community.
Learn more at: https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on/impersonator-scams/romance-scams
Pass it on and tell a friend about Romance scams.
Social Security scams are on the rise again. Scammers know that people on social security have a monthly resource, are nervous about losing it, and often the process of social security is confusing. Many of us have gotten the scam calls, "Social Security will suspend your benefits unless you call this number back immediately."
Don't get caught in this, never call back a number in a voicemail unless you are expecting the call. And if you ever doubt it, look it up online and go to the official site for social security to get your number. You worked hard for that money, and you deserve not to have someone trick you in to giving it to them.
Check out this great article from caregiver.com to learn more on how to avoid Social Security Scams - https://caregiver.com/articles/social%20-security-scammers/
Thanks to Stockman Bank and the Montana Attorney General for speaking to this issue today at a press conference at Stockman Bank.
Elder Abuse is a public health issue. It is a public health issue that impacts our grandmothers, and our grandfathers, our mothers and our dads. It steals their livelihood and hard work and diminishes their quality of life causing untold health problems and mental health issues in our communities.
Elder Abuse takes away from so many people that which with they have worked their lives for. In some cases this is verbal, emotional, neglect or other forms of abuse that we can see having a physical and emotional toll on our seniors. These issues can be tackled through continued work in our community through education and direct intervention supports that can support our senior community members.
Montana Adult Protective Services has 32 investigators that cover all 56 counties in Montana.
APS has 5 Central Intake workers processing reports received by our agency and 5 Social Services Workers that monitor State appointed guardianship cases and provide follow up on investigations closed with referrals for services. 7 of these last 10 positions are grant funded.
In 2022, APS completed 5,374 investigations of adult maltreatment. APS served over 4,300 later in life adults that were reported victims of alleged maltreatment. APS provided information and referrals to over 2,700 individuals, and provided guardianship oversight to over
Adult Maltreatment is widespread. It is estimated that
approximately 1 out of every 10 elders has experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Elder abuse is significantly under-identified and underreported.
One of the main areas that seniors are taken advantage of is through financial exploitation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported this for 2022 related to fraud and financial exploitation:
Scammers took a LOT of money. The latest FTC data book says people reported losing $8.8 billion to scams. That’s $2.6 billion more than 2021. Except the number of reports are down by half a million.
We take this exploitation seriously, and unfortunately our law enforcement and prosecution divisions are outpaced by a multi-billion dollar fraud industry. We will need to increase our efforts tenfold in prosecution and enforcement in order to even keep up with this fraud industry. We likely will have to get incredibly creative with our prosecutions and have much more public cases to make a dent in their profits.
It takes a community and a village to care for our seniors and the population is growing rapidly. To keep Montana a safe and loving place for them to live we have work to do.
On behalf of Big Sky Senior Services and our partners in this work, thank you for taking time today to recognize world elder abuse awareness day. Especially on behalf of our grandparents and our parents who we are protecting.
Executive Director, Big Sky Senior Services
Hang up and tell a friend. Great advice from the FTC on tech support scams.
It happens frequently. A person gets a call, "Hello, this is Fred from x computer. We have detected viruses on your computer. Please if you would go to your computer and open a browser and type in this, I will access your computer and fix the problem." or "Hi, this is Sanra from y computer. We have detected a virus on your computer. If you can give us a credit card number we will clean it up for you with super virus software."
Hang up. Tell a friend. And remember if you aren't expecting the call, likely it is a scam. Then if you suspect something is wrong with your computer, take it to a reputable computer shop or call a local tech who can help you out.
Scammers are trying to gain access you your personal data and a computer is a great way. When you follow their lead, they can track your keystrokes or steal passwords.
Learn more at: https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on/impersonator-scams/tech-support-scams
Pass it on and tell a friend about Tech Support scams.
Our friends at the Federal Trade Commission have some great resources on learning about fraud prevention. Over the next few months we will be posting new resources from this campaign on our blog, and we are so thankful to the great work the FTC is doing. The reminder is that as we learn about fraud we best prevent it by "Passing It On" by telling friends and family about it. People getting defrauded often become isolated and confused. You can help out by being a good neighbor sharing the information we post here and letting people know they don't have to be victims of fraud or abuse. We believe it takes a community to support our neighbors. Hope you will come back for more information as we keep posting.
Big Sky Senior Services' program the Prevention of Elder Abuse seeks to provide information to prevent fraud and abuse for Seniors in our community. It is our belief that preventing abuse and fraud leads to independence and better health.