PEORIA, Ill. – Peoria senior citizens are learning how they can avoid falling victim to financial abuse.
Law enforcement and fraud experts say of all ages, elders are more likely to become victims of fraud.
“Senior citizens are seen as more vulnerable, more susceptible to this,” said Mark Spenny, CEO and president of CEFCU.
Financial fraud and scams cheat people out of thousands of dollars.
“You’ll see the IRS scam go around all the time, the Ameren scam goes around all the time, the grandchild imprisoned in some foreign country scam, jury duty scams,” Peoria Police Department Public Information Office Amy Dotson said.
Trusting the wrong people can make seniors a target.
“A small percentage can take advantage, and when that happens it can be financial devastating to a senior citizen,” said Spenny.
Police and fraud experts hope to teach seniors and their loved ones what to watch for.
“What the danger signs are, what are the activities of someone that’s trying to commit a scam, you’re going to be more aware and better able to protect yourself,” said Spenny.
In Peoria, hundreds have already fallen victim.
“This last year we had 200 more cases than we’ve ever seen before through adult protective services and the largest percentage of those was financial abuse,” said Carol Merna, the CEO of the Center for Prevention of Abuse.
When it happens, leaders say many don’t report what they went through.
“We have a lot of seniors that are very proud, and sometimes they don’t want to come forward because something has happened to them and they might take responsibility for abuse that was perpetrated on them,” Merna said.
But the best thing to do if you feel you’ve become a victim, is to report it.
“Financial abuse is truly abuse. So we want to do what we can to care for our elder victims,” Merna said.
The best prevention is to never give out personal information like your social security number. Bank account information also should never be given out.