Snowflakes, Seniors and Scams
Around the winter months, like all of us, seniors may be more susceptible to scams that prey on persons needing to stay warm or to protect their health during frigid weather. However, during this time older adults can increase their knowledge about how to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure a safe and warm winter season.
Tips for seniors to avoid scams:
- Always ask for information in writing and read documents carefully before signing. When asked to sign a contract, consider taking the document home and read it without stress. If comfortable with the terms and conditions, return the next day with it signed.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. During the winter months many places offer great bargains on items to keep warm and healthy. Unless it is a reputable, familiar business, stay away from deals that are “too good to pass up” and always read the fine print.
- Protect yourself and your medical and financial information. Do not disclose this information over the phone. This has long been a popular tool used by con artists to gain access to personal information. Financial and medical institutions do not ask for this information over the phone.
- Do your research before working with a new organization or individual. Many community resources exist to help seniors advocate for themselves. Contact your local Agency on Aging, the Better Business Bureau, legal assistance programs or family and friends you trust for more information on an organization. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
For other ways to combat fraud and abuse, visit the Senior Advocacy in Action Alert and contact your state Representative about pending legislation.
Senior Advocacy in Action Alert
Your action is needed to help prevent elder abuse!
Five years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of aging experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Since then, many bills have been introduced, but have died due to inaction by one or both houses. Similar bills have been introduced in 2011. We want legislators to get the job done this year to prevent abuse and get justice for victims.
The Senate passed a package of 18 bills in early November. Here are a few examples:
- Senate Bill 461 would prevent an abuser from inheriting his/her victim’s assets.
- Senate Bill 454 would allow vulnerable adults to provide videotaped testimony similar to laws protecting children from having to face their abusers.
- Senate Bill 466 would require law enforcement to publicize a missing elder similar to the Amber Alerts used for missing children
Fourteen (14) of these bills are now in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, chaired by Rep. Ken Kurtz, and the other four bills are in the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Marty Knollenberg. The bills have to be reported out of these committees, and then be approved by the entire House before they can go to Governor Snyder for his signature. Advocates are pushing for the bills to become law by Christmas as a present for older Michiganians.
Whate You Can Do:
Contact the Chairmen of these two committees along with the Speaker of the House and ask that the bills be reported out of these committees as soon as possible! Also contact your own Representative and ask him/her to advocate with Kurtz, Knollenberg and Bolger.
- Representative Ken Kurtz (866) 362-8812 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Representative Marty Knollenberg (877) 248-0001 email@example.com
- Speaker Jase Bolger (877) 265-4371 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some talking points:
- About 80,000 Michigan elders fall victim to some form of abuse each year.
- Last year, Adult Protective Services received 19,000 calls reporting abuse, up from 12,000 calls in 2000.
- 70% of abusers are ‘trusted ones,’ including spouses, children, grandchildren and friends. Victims come from all walks of life and income classes, as witnessed by Mickey Rooney’s testimony before the Congress.
- Michigan’s high rate of unemployment is fueling the financial exploitation of the elderly.