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The City Journals

Senior fraud addressed at Heritage Center’s symposium

May 07, 2018 04:18PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Participants at Murray City Heritage Center’s symposium were informed on senior fraud. (Photo Courtesy Murray City Heritage Center)

By Shaun Delliskave|[email protected]

Has Rachel from Card Services called you yet—or maybe for the 100th time? According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is a current scam that is taking advantage of many, especially elderly people.

The peppy voice recording goes, “Hi, this is Rachel from Card Services calling about your credit card account. It appears that you are now eligible for a significantly lower interest rate on your account. However, this offer is about to expire, so please press 1 now to be transferred to a live representative who can assist you in securing your lower interest rate.” Pressing 1 will connect you with a live person who will try to convince you, for a small fee, that you can have a lower interest card. In reality, that small fee is a $5,000 charge.

Murray City Heritage Center offered an all-day symposium on April 17 called “Navigating through Fraud, Scams, and other Obstacles.” According to center Director Tricia Cooke, “We hope that our symposium subject brings educational value to our senior population. The knowledge that they can apply to protect themselves from becoming a victim is invaluable.”

The symposium featured experts from federal, state, and city agencies with advice about fraud protection. Matt Gephardt, from KUTV, also spoke, sharing some of his insights and experience. Cooke noted “there are many more resources (such as Salt Lake County Aging Services) that were explained at the symposium. Also, we have a reference manual at the front desk.”

According to the FBI, a number of scam organizations target senior populations. Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, or to have excellent credit—all of which makes them attractive to con artists. The FBI also reports, “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say ‘no’ or just hang up the telephone.” 

The FBI has found that “older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.” Cooke hopes the symposium provided knowledge of where to turn if they become or ever have been victims of fraud.

Government agencies have found senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, and anti-cancer properties. In a time when many medical breakthroughs are being announced, con artists take advantage of many seniors who are hoping to buy a cure; but they end up with a bogus product.

The Murray Heritage Center hopes to be a resource for both seniors and their caregivers. “That is our goal here at the Murray Heritage Center. We wanted all participants to walk away from the symposium armed with the tools to assist with their caregiving duties,” said Cooke.