FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nancy Carr, 443-787-5382 or email@example.com
Helene Raynaud, CCCSMD, 443-514-0600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Officials & Non-Profits Unite to Combat Elder Financial Abuse
PROTECT Week 2020 Kicks Off on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
BALTIMORE (June 15, 2020) -- One in five seniors over age 65 have been the victims of fraud, losing a staggering $2.9 billion a year to identity thieves and con artists. Unfortunately, even more is lost to exploiters who are family, friends or caregivers. To assist Marylanders in identifying and combatting fraud, the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, AARP Maryland, CCCSMD (Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland), the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, the Commissioner of Financial Regulation from the Maryland Department of Labor, and a coalition of consumer protection groups today announced a statewide public awareness campaign during PROTECT Week (Protecting Older Americans from Financial Exploitation), June 15-20, 2020.
PROTECT Week kicked off with a virtual press conference streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live, hosted by AARP State Director Hank Greenberg, featuring Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur, Maryland Department of Labor Assistant Commissioner of Financial Regulation Sean McEvoy, and CCSMD President Helene Raynaud. Participants shared their agencies respective roles in fighting fraud and abuse against the elderly and offered tips on how to avoid scams. They also announced a new series of public service announcements running on statewide television, beginning at the end of June. (A complete recording of the event is online at https://www.facebook.com/aarpmd/videos/710125703085827).
The press conference coincided with June 15 publication of an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun co-authored by PROTECT Week coalition leaders, calling for increased vigilance against scams and fraud targeting older citizens.
Additionally during PROTECT Week, Tuesday, June 16 at 10:00 a.m., the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland Insurance Administration, Comptroller of Maryland and AARP Maryland are presenting a Zoom webinar in Spanish, focusing on elder fraud targeting multi-cultural audiences.
And Wednesday, June 17, AARP Maryland is hosting a COVID-19 fraud teletown hall with Dr. Michele Manahan, president of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society; US Attorney for the District of Maryland, Robert K. Hur; Sydney Palinkas, ElderSAFE Center Community Educator; and Lynn McCamie, Program Manager of the Ombudsman Program for the Baltimore County Department of Aging. (The public can opt-in to participate by registering at vekeo.com/aarpmaryland.)
In Maryland, more than 54,000 cases of fraud were reported in 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Sentinel report, with losses totaling more than $18 million. An increasingly common scheme is the “grandparent” scam, where callers pretend the victim’s relative is in jail and needs bail money wired. Other popular cons include “lottery scams,” where victims are persuaded that they have won a contest and have to send money upfront to pay the taxes before receiving their winnings, and “tech support” scams, where callers seek to gain access to the victim’s personal computer.
“We can all help prevent older Marylanders from becoming victims of elder financial abuse,” said Franchot. “Through education and advocacy – and just simply reaching out and talking with loved ones – we can stop criminals from preying on seniors and trying to rob them of their life savings. I’m grateful to our PROTECT Week partners and am confident that we can stamp out elder financial abuse.”
“Sadly, financial exploitation of older adults is a common occurrence, but friends and family can protect loved ones if given the proper tools and information,” said Attorney Frosh. “In addition to the many great resources provided by our Protect Week partners, my office’s Consumer Protection Division can help anyone concerned about financial exploitation by calling our hotline at 410-528-8662.”
“Protect Week is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the resources available to prevent and remedy the increasing problem of the financial exploitation of older or vulnerable adults,” said Hur. “I hope people will take advantage of the programs being offered this week, especially the teletown hall on June 17. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to do all we can to protect older and vulnerable adults from this type of financial abuse.”
“Now in its third year, PROTECT Week is a great example of statewide collaboration between State Agencies, consumer groups and the financial sector. Through this coordinated campaign, we focus on bringing awareness of the growing issue of financial abuse, as well providing tangible resources to our older and often most vulnerable residents. I am personally thrilled that you were able to work together again this year in spite of the challenging environment, and that we were able to expand our outreach efforts through a combination of virtual events, on-the-ground distribution of educational materials and the creation of TV PSAs that will be broadcast throughout the summer”
“Marylanders are losing millions of dollars to scams and fraud every year, and every day criminals become more sophisticated in how they separate you from your hard-earned money,” said AARP State President Hank Greenberg. “Collaboration among government agencies, law enforcement, social workers, banks and community agencies is essential to prevent financial exploitation, and that is why PROTECT Week is so important. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free events we are hosting this week to learn more about fraud and to take the opportunity to shred their sensitive documents.”
About the Partners
The PROTECT Week Coalition includes the following partners:
- Maryland Department of Aging
- Maryland Office of the Attorney General
- Maryland Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation
- Maryland Office of the Comptroller
- Maryland Department of Human Services
- Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
- Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
- SAFE: Stop Abuse of Elders
- Baltimore County Restoring Elder Safety Today – BC REST Coalition
- AARP Maryland
- CCCSMD – Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland