Protecting senior citizens from identity theft
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - On Monday, WALB’s Jim Wallace spoke to Noula Zaharis, the Director of the Security and Charities Division with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
“Noula, the question is, are the number of attacks on senior citizens trying to steal their personal or financial information, is it actually increasing nowadays?” Wallace asked.
“Yes, yes we are seeing an uptick in that space. We find that scammers are stealing billions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers. And it seems to be a big target toward seniors and the impact on families and the victims is devastating, especially for our seniors,” said Zaharis.
“What can the family members do to try to protect their senior family members? Because it is a very personal thing for a senior to give up and receive that kind of help.”
“Yes, so it’s important first to be recognized that seniors are often targets of this exploitation because they have tangible assets, including home and pension streams that are attractive to these criminals. And that they are vulnerable due to social isolation and distance from maybe their family, caregivers, and other support networks. So what family members can do is to be aware and kind of educate themselves about signs to take note of. For example, if you notice that your loved one has received information or asked to invest in something that’s not, that seems unusual or is a start-up company, that’s something to look out for,” Zaharia said. “If you find that they have been asked to sign blank paperwork on an investment account, to give their investment professional discretionary authority over their account, if they’ve given a power of attorney to someone else, such as a new companion or some advisor to manage his or her finances including maybe unopened mail that’s sitting there. Missing checks from their checking account, telling you that they are receiving telephone calls all the time about their power bills being shut down. Things like that, they should be aware and have dialogues with their family members about what’s going on.”
Officials say scammers have stolen billions of dollars from unsuspecting senior citizens.
The Secretary of State’s Office of Security and Charities Division offers help to seniors and their families at (470) 312-2640. The office also partners with the AARP, which has a Fraud Watch Help Hot Line at (877) 908-3360.
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