Caryn Haller

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October 12, 2012
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Seniors learn to protect against fraud

The top 10 scams targeting seniors nationwide include health care fraud, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral scams, telemarketing, lottery scams, Internet fraud and investment schemes.

Douglas Country TRIAD sponsored a free senior education seminar Wednesday to address these issues.

"We see this wave of fraud happening. They're real and they happen daily. It's a problem," said Travis Lee TRIAD chairman. "We want seniors to feel they know what to do in different circumstances. The best silver bullet is having a good support group. Some people forget not to do it alone."

FBI Special Agent Erron Terry educated the crowd of 85 people about the types of scams targeting seniors.

"They are a victim of opportunity for fraudsters and they're specifically being targeted because they're vulnerable," he said.

Terry cited the grandparent scam, where someone calls claiming to be a grandchild and asks for money to solve an unexpected financial problem, as a popular one.

"For seniors on a fixed income, that's hard," he said.

Gardnerville residents James and Gloria Green said they have been contacted several times by scammers, but never taken.

"I'm going to be very cautious about phone calls, and not give information to people I don't know," James said. "I'm surprised there's not more seniors here to take advantage of this."

Thomas Lanagan, 61, of Topaz Ranch Estates takes care of his 78-year-old father. He attended the seminar to gain information to keep them both safe.

"I'm not young either," he said. "I've learned not to give out personal information over the telephone, you don't know who you're talking to. Something I have to talk to my dad about periodically."

Carson City nurse Diane Schlapkohl wanted to further her education on scams.

"I want to let our clientele know about them and prevent them from being victims," she said. "They also need to know how to report abuse they are experiencing so they know they have an avenue and aren't trapped in a situation."

Gardnerville resident Anjanette Fogerson works for the state's aging and disability services in Carson City.

It's important to get the message out to seniors in the community. A lot of times incidences of abuse in the way of financial exploitation goes unreported," she said. "This type of environment is good. It gets the community and professionals all on one page, so we have the same message. We all know someone who's aging. If you have the tools, you'll know where to get help."

TRIAD Chaplain Leo Kruger discussed the importance of having a support team to talk to if a proposition sounds too good to be true.

"We are not smart enough to not have a team to help us when it comes to scams," he said. "It's awareness of the problem and finding solutions so we're not running scared all the time. A lot of seniors are afraid to answer their phone, and there's a legitimacy to it. They're targeted."

Law enforcement and health care professionals also discussed elder depression, abuse and neglect, identity theft, and health tips.

Carson Valley Medical Center cosponsored the seminar.

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 14, 2012 02:05PM Published Oct 12, 2012 06:43PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.