Keeping elders safe from scammers: everything you need to know

Jefferson City, Mo. — In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is reminding Missourians to be on the lookout for elder financial abuse.

“Each year fraudsters financially exploit Missouri senior citizens,” Ashcroft said. “We need the public’s support and partnership to bring much-needed attention to this serious matter.”

While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one, officials say.

Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

What to Watch For

The Secretary of State’s Securities Division gives these five examples of exploitation warning signs:

• A new, overly protective friend or caregiver or the unexplained surrender of financial control.
• Fear or a sudden change in feelings.
• A lack of knowledge about financial status or the reluctance to discuss financial matters.
• Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designations.
• Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets (cash, valuables, securities, etc.). Watch for suspicious signatures on the senior’s checks or other documents.

How You Can Help

• Contact: Be sure to communicate with older family members regularly. Contact is key.
• Inform: Let older family members know that fraudsters and scammers are always finding new ways to exploit and deceive. Help older adults become aware of the red flags of fraud, which remain consistent regardless of the fraud or scam.
• Act: Contact the Securities Division by calling the Investor Protection Hotline at (800) 721-7996 or visit www.missouriprotectsinvestors.com.

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