“Our seniors are compliant to do what they think is right by the government or banks,” said Judy Dobbins, aging services manager of the Door County Senior and Community Center. “Whenever we learn of our seniors being potential victims, we report it to the police.”
Dobbins said the staff at the Senior Center always is working with the seniors and reminds them to get on the Wisconsin “no-call” list and never give out personal information over the phone or Internet to people they do not trust.
Common scams the Senior Center sees are when calls are made to seniors telling them their grandchild is in jail and they need to send money to bail them out, or that they won the lottery and need to send money to get the prize released.
“Our newest fear is protecting them online, as they are starting to work with technology more,” Dobbins said.
In 2014, the Senior Center processed 182 reports of elder abuse, and the majority of the complaints were financial abuse from family members. The center has two adult protective social workers on staff and they have taken victims family members to court over financial fraud.
“The sad thing is, these are the people who should be helping and protecting them in their old age,” Dobbins said. “How are we supposed to protect the elderly from their own family?”
Mike Green is a volunteer at the Senior Center who teaches the elderly about preventing fraud in their lives. Green is a former police chief deputy out of Illinois who moved to Door County. He spent four years as the president of the Elderly Service Officers Program in Illinois, under which officers and other elderly service professionals took a 40-hour training about working with the elderly.
“The main idea when trying to protect yourself against scams is that if someone you don’t know contacts you and tells you some story and then asks for your personal information, just hang up,” Green said. “All you have to do is say, ‘No thank you and please don’t call again.’”
The Door County Sheriff’s Department this week shared the Top Scams of 2014, a document from the IRS, so as to help people of all ages protect themselves. The No. 1 reported scam in 2014 was the IRS Imposter, where people received a call from the IRS claiming they have overdue taxes and out of fear, people pay the said amount without checking the validity of the claim with the IRS.
The second most-reported scam was about technical support to help clean your computer. The callers are given remote access to a computer and then steal personal information.
The IRS states that if this kind of thing happens to you, do not be pressured into making fast decisions, never provide personal information or money transfers to people you do not know or trust, and if you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank or utility company, check the validity of the call by hanging up and calling the number on your bill.
Another way to investigate if you are being scammed, check out the organization on the Better Business Bureau website. (www.bbb.org).
For detailed information and tips about protecting your identity, visit the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website at www.datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Senior_Guide/ and read their “Senior Guide.” Different scams are addressed along with how to protect and recover your identity. The Senior Center also has the hard copy available.
— firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 114.