How Can You Help Older Americans Avoid Fraud? Talk About It.
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day to learn the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Yesterday, I participated in a day-long symposium at the White House on the role that financial exploitation plays in the wider problem of elder abuse.
I spoke about the thousands of complaints that FTC receives every year from older consumers who have been the victims of financial frauds. And I talked about a small FTC-AARP pilot project that offers peer counseling to some older consumer who have been the victims of financial frauds. The counselors in the program describe victims who need to talk about their experiences, are ashamed and devastated about what happened to them, and terribly anxious about how they will get by after the substantial financial losses they have experienced.
I also had a chance to talk about some of the ways the FTC is responding to the financial exploitation of older Americans. I described FTC cases that have successfully stopped financial fraud schemes targeting older consumers. The thousands of financial fraud complaints the FTC receives every year are used by FTC and by our law enforcement partners to enforce the laws that prevent financial scams and punish rip-off artists. If you want to report a scam or abusive financial practice to the FTC, you can do that at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
I took time to describe the free consumer education resources the FTC offers. You can use these free resources to help you talk to an older person in your life about how to avoid fraud:
- Common Online Scams: Looks at 12 angles con artists use to get people to send them money.
- Health-Related Scams: A website that helps people find reliable sources of information on health topics important to older consumers.
- Reverse Mortgages: Educates people about the risks and benefits of reverse mortgages.
- Staying Safe Online: The federal government’s website to help people be safe, secure and responsible online.
- Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: Explains that if you have to pay to get your prize, it’s a scam.
- Telemarketing Scams: Look at different ways criminals use the phone to commit many different types of fraud.
Finally, I joined with other symposium attendees in recognizing how cooperation and collaboration among consumers, businesses, private organizations, and all levels of government, can make education and law enforcement efforts against financial exploitation of older Americans so much more effective. I hope you will join this effort by learning about the signs of financial exploitation; taking an interest in the activities of older family members and friends; and helping the FTC educate consumers about financial fraud and exploitation.