A seminar on how to protect seniors from scams, fraud and financial abuse was held by the Laguna Woods Village Social Services Department on Thursday, Sept. 14, providing knowledge to residents who attended the event at the Performing Arts Center.
Kelli Jean Morris, the Council on Aging-Southern California’s director of the Financial Abuse Specialist Team, spoke about different types of scams and how seniors can protect themselves. Tim Moy, Laguna Woods Village Management Services’ director of security, spoke about specific instances of scams in the Village.
“Financial abuse is the largest growing and most underreported form of abuse,” Morris said. “Seniors are particularly vulnerable to cons and scams.”
With nearly 400,000 seniors in Orange County, the senior population is continuing to grow nationwide and even more so in the county, Morris said.
“With a growth in population comes an opportunity for abuse,” she said.
Scams come in many forms, from fake telephone calls to romance scams, and the most useful tool to combat the crime is to spread awareness, Morris said. However, the biggest problem is that scams and financial abuse often go underreported, she added.
“If you think you spotted a scam, tell somebody — a friend, a neighbor, a loved one — because sharing could help someone else avoid a scam,” Morris said.
The three most common scams to harm seniors are home improvement, investment and romance scams, according to a study that Morris referenced. It’s important for people, especially seniors, to know how to prevent becoming a victim to scams, Morris said.
One way to avoid scams is to be cautious of anything that seems “too good to be true,” anyone who requests private information or anything outright suspicious, Morris said. If a person does encounter anyone or anything questionable, the safest choice is to call the proper authorities, such as the local police, Social Security office or Laguna Woods Village security, to ask if the suspicious activity has been experienced elsewhere, she said.
“We need to eliminate the stigma of reporting; we need to get people to report to the proper authorities,” she said. “There is no shame in being conned by one of these people. They put as much time into perfecting their craft, as any of us did in our own professions.”
Elder abuse, which can come in physical, emotional and financial forms, is typically underreported, although financial abuse is the most common, Morris…