Fending Off Fraud with DASH.
Linda Varrell, President of Broadreach Public Relations (and former Bank Security Officer), Portland, ME
Heather Clark, AVP – Marketing Officer of Saco & Biddeford Savings, Saco, ME
On behalf of the Maine Fraud Prevention Alliance – www.DASHFraud.org
According to the Bangor Daily News, last month, an elderly Kennebunk home owner was approached by two men, aggressively selling their services to perform yard work and maintenance projects for a significant fee. The men pressured the home owner into writing a check for $2,600 and promised to return the following day. Return they did, only to coerce the individual into writing an additional check—this time for $3,500. The story ends in justice for the home owner; the two were apprehended by the Kennebunk police shortly after their second visit.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that one in seven Americans is a victim of fraud every year, and the elderly are prime targets. A 2011 study by MetLife found that elderly victims of financial abuse lose $2.9 billion annually.
Approximately 40 percent of Maine’s population is over 50. And at 43, the median age is the oldest in the country. With its aging demographic, rising health care costs, and economic uncertainty, Maine has become a fertile market for fraud in its many forms.
To address the issue, a group of Maine businesses and organizations, led by Saco & Biddeford Savings, formed the Maine Fraud Prevention Alliance (MFPA) in 2012. This group was recently joined by AARP Maine and the Maine Bankers Association. The MFPA aims to be a leader in fraud prevention by raising awareness of the myriad of ways fraud is attempted, particularly financial fraud, which studies show often goes unreported. According to the Alliance, the more it can stimulate conversations around strategies to deter fraud, the better Maine citizens can protect themselves.
There are so many different ways fraud is perpetrated today and in order to ‘DASH’ fraud it takes prevention at the onset. With this in mind, the MFPA created the DASH Fraud program, a simple and easy reminder of four preventive measures, DASH: Delete unsolicited emails and texts, Ask for permits from door-to-door salespeople, Shred junk mail, and Hang-up unsolicited calls.
The DASH program is already generating conversations about fraud, and raising awareness among all age groups—because fraud can happen to anyone. Posting the DASH reminders by the phone or on the fridge gives you a first line of defense.
The MFPA offers free fraud prevention presentations for community groups and organizations. If you wish to request a presentation, fraud prevention materials, or want to learn more about the program please contact Heather Clark at 207-602-7332 or visit the website at www.dashfraud.org. Beginning in September, the website will provide additional fraud prevention resources, real accounts of fraud, current news on the program, and more. Be sure and check it out!
About the Maine Fraud Prevention Alliance
Formed in July 2012, the Maine Fraud Prevention Alliance consists of a group of Maine businesses, organizations and municipalities that want to take a stand against fraud. The MFPA is committed to educating and protecting the public by providing tools for recognizing and defending against fraud. The Alliance’s DASH program was designed as four simple preventative measures to act as the first line of defense against fraud.