As financial scammers continue targeting Tennessee’s vulnerable adults, Governor Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday, June 15, as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee.
In anticipation of this day, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Securities and Consumer Affairs divisions joined with other Tennessee state agencies to warn seniors and their families in order to avoid falling victim to identity theft, financial abuse and scams.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was created by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization of the United Nations in 2006 to bring awareness to the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of seniors. Every year, an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.
“Older adults are often victims of financial fraud and identity theft because they are vulnerable to scammers,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “This vulnerability stems from the wealth they have accumulated over their careers, their tendency to be trusting, and their increasing isolation from family, friends, and caregivers.”
She continued, “It is our responsibility as Tennesseans to keep a watchful eye out for signs of elder financial exploitation and promptly reporting any suspicions to the appropriate party.”
TDCI offers the following tips to help residents of the Volunteer State recognize and avoid financial exploitation and fraud: if a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution as swindlers can take advantage of good manners; make sure to invest with a licensed investment adviser; beware of salespeople who prey upon fears and blind out good judgement; only invest after finding out all pertinent information; and don’t be embarrassed to report fraud or abuse.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips include: never buy from a stranger who calls or visits unannounced; shred all paperwork containing any identifying information, healthcare information, banking information, or passwords; monitor bank and credit card statements; monitor your credit report; use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen; and never give your credit card, banking, Social Security number, Medicare number, or other personal information over the phone.
If one suspects they have been a victim of securities or insurance fraud, or if would like to file a complaint or speak with an investigator, please contact the Tennessee Securities Division – Financial Services Investigations Unit at (615) 741-5900 or visit our website.
Other types of elder abuse involving abuse, neglect or exploitation should be reported to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Adult Protective Services Unit by phone at (888) 277-8366 or by visiting https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/. For more consumer tips, including additional resources on identity theft and other scams, visit the TDCI Consumer Affairs Division at www.tn.gov/consumer.