by Barbara Parrott McGinity, LMSW
One of the most common questions we receive from individuals reporting a scam or revealing they are victim is “why is there not more public awareness or efforts to warn people.” Actually that is what we strive to do on a daily basis.
We collaborate with local news stations to do stories on scams. This monthly column is another outlet we use to do public education. And the BBB Education Foundation staff is available to make presentations to any group who wants a speaker on the topic of scams and fraudulent business practices.
But despite our efforts, we are never going to reach every living soul at any one time. This really needs to be a community effort if we are going to have a major impact.
What do I mean by community effort…I actually mean you. How often do you get together in social settings whether it is bowling, bridge at the senior center, lunch with the church group, garden club, or other club meetings and actually talk about some new scam you’ve learned about? Maybe it is something you read here in the Chronicle, heard on the news, or saw in a magazine. Do you talk about how it works, what you learned, how to safeguard yourself?
Taking the time to pass on knowledge in a casual social setting could be a start to our working to defeat those unscrupulous people who spend their every waking hour coming up with some new way to steal your money. Because I see and hear this everyday, nothing really surprises me anymore. What I am surprised by is how people are fascinated to hear about the latest scam and just cannot believe what goes on day after day after day.
When individuals call to tell me about a phone call or letter they got promising riches but they were smart enough not to be caught, I ask them to share this information with everyone else. It is going to take a larger force than just the BBB to educate people and inoculate them against the most current scams. Think about what you can do.
Then of course there is your family. So many calls we get are from older adults who have very capable adult children, but they don’t tell their children what is going on in their lives and they don’t ask their children for help when they need it. Reaching out to family members and your children to get help when you are confused, in trouble over a debt, or worried you may be a victim of fraud is not a negative, but a positive.
Letting family members help you and guide you in making important decisions can be the best way you keep yourself safe. Being fearful of what they will think only leads to stress and anxiety, resulting in both mental and physical health problems. There really is no need for you to carry the burden alone, let those that love you help you shoulder the load.
If we work together educating each other or providing support, we can go a long way in putting an end to the financial abuse that targets older adults.