Sometimes All It Takes Is a Phone Call
We all have elderly loved ones in our lives, whether they are relatives, neighbors, friends, or coworkers. In today’s fast-paced world where information gets passed around online and people are less likely to pick up the phone to check in on one another, elderly loved ones are more susceptible to abuse and exploitation.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, or financial abuse. According to a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of abuse. We must protect our elderly loved ones from those who prey on our seniors for financial gain and attack the elderly because they think they can’t fight back.
A report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services report said that in 2015, nearly 18 percent of elder abuse calls involved financial exploitation. To protect yourself or an elderly loved one from financial exploitation, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection advises the following:
- Do your research. Do business with companies you know or that come recommended by those you trust. Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay. Check out a business with the Bureau of Consumer Protection before you act.
- Don’t wire transfer money to anyone you don’t know. Money sent via wire transfer or money cards is practically impossible to track. Pay by credit card (not debit card) whenever possible, since you can dispute charges easily.
- Just don’t answer…be cautious when responding to telemarketers, door-to-door sellers, and email or text pitches. Instead of responding to unsolicited offers, decide when and where you want to go shopping.
- It’s personal, keep it that way. Never give out your Social Security number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
- You don’t have to pay if you are a winner. Anyone who demands an upfront fee or purchase for a prize is trying to scam you.
- Protect your computer. Don’t click on links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. Make sure that you have updated anti-virus software installed, use a firewall at all times and use strong passwords you change regularly.
- Check your credit report regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each nationwide credit bureau. To access your free credit reports, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
If you are being neglected or abused – financially, physically, emotionally, or sexually, or fear someone you know is being abused, please contact your county’s Adults-at-Risk help line. You can do this by calling your county health and human services department, or find your county’s number here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aps/aar-agencies.htm
Keeping our communities safe and healthy takes effort and vigilance from all of us. Sometimes we need law enforcement to take drug dealers off the streets, or lawmakers to make a new law, and sometimes all it takes is a phone call to a loved one.