Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece, left, and Detective Joe Woodard presenting information about financial scams to a group of residents at the Mountain City Senior Center last week.
By Tamas Mondovics
In a continued effort to keep area residents safe and protected, identity theft, scams and personal safety took center stage at the
Mountain City senior citizen center last week.
A sizable group welcomed Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece and his lead Detective Joe Woodard who presented timely information and update on how to avoid being a victim of the ever-growing problem of scams preying on the most vulnerable members of the community.
Reece and Woodard put things in perspective with a
pair of topics such as: how much do you know about scams? Why are you at risk for financial scams?
Woodard also addresses the usual suspects and types of scams ways to protect oneself and their loved ones as well as the resources residents have to report scams and financial abuse.
“We are always welcome at the senior center and had
a great meeting while we
covered many topics,” Reece said, but added that the main concern is phone and debit card scams.”
That is, of course, for a good reason.
According to the latest reports, one in five individuals in the U.S. is 60 years of age and older. One in 20 elderly residents has indicated to be victims of some form of financial mistreatment.
Sadly, the data also shows that less than half of financial abuse cases are ever reported to law enforcement.
Nearly 10 percent of victims turn to Medicaid after their funds were stolen.
Perhaps the most sobering part of the presentation was the realization of why scammers target seniors and the fact that aside from strangers the usual suspects include family members and caregivers.
Woodard emphasized that the long list of reasons seniors are often the primary target includes, fear, the fragility of aging, dependence on others and isolation.
1. Medicare and Health Insurance Fraud
2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
3. Funeral and Cemetery Scams
4. Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
5. Telemarketing Scams
6. Internet Fraud
7. Investment Scams
8. Reverse Mortgage Scams
9. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
10. The Grandparent Scam
Reece mentioned that according to the National Council of Aging (NCOA), the most crucial tip to protect oneself from financial scams is to “be aware of being at risk from strangers as well as from those closest to us.”
“Our senior residents want to be well informed and to be aware of the risks, including the two most common scam of identity theft and debit card scams,” Reece said.
Reece explained that one type of debit card scam involves a customer being prompted at checkout to answer ‘yes or no’ to wanting cash back.
“When you say no the cashier may enter yes and take the money,’ Reece said. “So pay close attention to the receipt.”
Unfortunately, financial scams are a sad reality of life. But conscientious effort on the part of local authorities, organizations and law enforcement through awareness events and presentations such as the recent event at the senior center, and some diligence on the part of the elderly, becoming victims of such financial scams can be avoided.
Sheriff Reece and detective Woodard also commended Kathy Motsinger for the “great job” she is doing as Director and the positive impact the Senior Center makes in the community.
For more information about financial scams and a complete list of safety tips, please visit www.ncoa.org/