Voice of the consumer: Scams among the worst abuse of the elderly

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

Seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups in our community, and this week, several local agencies are teaming up to shine a light on the problems they can face. The Pikes Peak Elder Abuse Coalition is holding a free event in honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The event is 10 a.m. Friday at Silver Key Senior Services, 1655 S. Murray Blvd. It is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required to reserve a ride and to order a meal. You can call Silver Key at 719-884-2350 or email info@silverkey.org.

Some of the programs being offered include watching for scams, recognizing signs of abuse and more. There are also classes for caregivers, and experts will talk about ways for seniors to get assistance from the resources in our community.

“We are seeing financial exploitation and other forms of mistreatment right here in our community,” said Dayton Romero, director of Senior Assistance at Silver Key Senior Services.

“Whether it be a caregiver who is asked to go to the grocery store to purchase some groceries for that person, and then goes and uses those funds for a computer or for their own self benefit.”

Romero tells me they also want to warn seniors about scams to watch out for, like the “grandparent scam” that I’ve told you about in this column before. That’s where the caller claims they are your grandchild in an emergency situation and need money right away.

“Number one is education. Really keeping informed on the different trending scams or trending things going on that may target them as a group,” Romero said.

“One common scam is where they are instructed to go purchase gift cards and they believe they’re going to get a return investment from this so they keep on doing this and they actually start dipping into their own essential funds that go to essential expenses, like their rent or their utilities or their prescription medication.”

Last week, I also heard from a reader who got a call saying there was suspicious activity on one of her accounts. The sender asked for hundreds of dollars and wanted access to their computers and other devices to fix the problem. Thankfully, she reached out before handing over the money.

It’s a good reminder that you should do your research before making a payment. Call your bank or the company directly using a trusted phone number to check on your account before trusting a call or email that claims there’s suspicious activity.

If you think you could help others spot scams and deal with consumer problems, you might be a perfect fit for our Call for Action team of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering, call us at 719-457-8211.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.