STATEWIDE – Elderly Mainers are being exploited and scammed, and the victims are the least likely to report what’s happening.
Staff at Eastern Area Agency on Aging said they get calls about scams on a regular basis.
“Some of them are involving family members, some of them are involving scam artists,” said Jennifer Sheaff, aging and disability resource specialist at EAAA.
According to the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, a 2011 study shows older Americans lose a minimum of $2.9 billion annually from either exploitation or financial elder abuse.
“Because this population is sometimes isolated from the rest of the world and they’re not the most up-to-date on technology, they tend to get targeted,” said Bangor police Community Resource Officer Elizabeth Brunton.
Those at EAAA said they work diligently to make sure people know organizations like Social Security, insurance agencies and banks won’t call people directly and ask for personal information over the phone.
“Anytime somebody is asking you to get out your checkbook or to purchase a prepaid debit card, these are all things that are very concerning because this is not normal business practice,” Sheaff said.
She said there are several reasons why people will not report these types of scams.
“There’s a lot of embarrassment behind being scammed,” said Sheaff.
There could also be a fear of some type of punishment if they don’t comply with what the caller is asking.
“If someone says that calling the police can get you into deeper trouble, that should be an instant red flag,” said Brunton.
Eastern Area Agency on Aging has moved. Its new location is 240 State St. in Brewer. Staff members are available to help in any way they can.