Don’t let seniors become targets of fraud

Our seniors are among our most treasured assets. Their wisdom, experience and patience are invaluable. Should we ask, they’re more than happy to offer guidance and advice that can benefit our community.

Those same seniors, though, are often targeted by those whose goal is to take advantage of them, to steal from them, to bring financial harm to them.

It happens. We’ve all heard of the scam phone calls informing people they’ve won some drawing or sweepstakes, and to claim their prize, all they have to do is pay hundreds of dollars in advance to cover some tax. There’s the con call, too, allegedly from a grandson or granddaughter who is in some sort of trouble, needs a few grand and also asks they don’t call their parents.

Trusting grandparents will sometimes respond. As we get older, we forget things, we get confused. Loneliness comes into play. Retired folks, it’s believed, have a lot of money sitting around that’s easily accessible. For those reasons and more, con artists will target seniors.

Sometimes, the thieves who run these scams have information that gives them credibility. They know the name of a nephew. They know where you live. Most important, they know you have money.

That’s why a presentation next week is important. Several state agencies have teamed up to form the Kupuna Alert Partners and are reaching out to seniors across the state. KAP will be doing a free presentation on Kauai titled “Key Issues Targeting Hawaii’s Seniors.”

The event is scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

Topics will include medical identity theft and Medicare fraud prevention, investor and fraud prevention and prevention of prescription drug misuse

According to the FBI, seniors are targeted because:

• They’re most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit.

• People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting.

• Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know to whom to report it, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed.

• Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on.

Financial scams aimed at seniors continue to grow. One study estimated that seniors lose around $2.5 billion per year due to financial abuse — fraud as well as theft, by family members and acquaintances.

If you are a senior, if you know a senior, consider attending this program. It could save you or a loved one from financial heartache.

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