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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Elder financial abuse highlighted during AARP PROTECT Week

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Monday, June 10, 2024   

Saturday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and AARP Maryland is observing its annual PROTECT Week to highlight elder financial abuse.

FBI data from 2023 showed more than 100,000 Americans age 60 and older were scammed out of more than $3.4 billion, representing an 11% increase over the year prior. Advocates encouraged seniors to shred financial documents but with so much personal information available online, it may seem unnecessary.

Jennifer Holz, associate state director of outreach for AARP Maryland, said fraudsters are not necessarily dumpster diving.

"So many crimes are committed by loved ones, or by caretakers, or friends and neighbors who you wouldn't necessarily suspect, and who may be entering the home on a regular basis," Holz pointed out. "It's still very important to get rid of those documents because oftentimes you're kind of surprised by the person who ends up committing these crimes."

While many scams are based in email and text messages appearing to originate with financial institutions or government agencies, many fraudsters still use phone calls. The FBI reported tech support scams are on the rise with fraudsters purporting to work for a legitimate company offering victims a refund, among other ruses.

Holz noted scammers often have some personal information on hand, giving them the appearance of legitimacy.

"These folks are professionals, they sound legit, they oftentimes already have some information about you," Holz explained. "They're just asking you for those extra identifiers, like your Social Security number or your birth date. And by you providing that last piece of the puzzle, you are allowing that scammer to enter your account."

One common fraud targeting seniors is the so-called "grandparents scam" which involves a caller posing as a loved one in crisis needing money. A relatively new angle on this scam involves using artificial intelligence to mimic the voice of a loved one. Fraudsters may also utilize caller ID spoofing to make even the phone number appear legitimate. Holz emphasized the grandparents scam can fool people by placing them in a heightened emotional state.

"What the scammer is doing is creating this sense of urgency or what we call 'the ether' in that other person, and making them feel like they need to act right now to help out their loved one," Holz added.

In 2023, the FBI received nearly 2,000 fraud complaints from Marylanders 60 and older reporting more than $72 million in losses.

AARP Maryland will host a number of in-person and online events this week including free document shredding at six locations around the state.

Disclosure: AARP Maryland contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Energy Policy, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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