In an effort to raise awareness of the many scams out there, the Redmond Senior Center (RSC) held a Be Aware Fair on Sept. 16.
The fair featured presentations on subjects ranging from how to track scams and charity fraud to identity theft and elder investment fraud.
“There are so many different scams,” said Teresa Glidden, education outreach coordinator for the Secretary of State (SOS).
The fair was a partnership between the RSC and Consumer Protection Washington (CPW), a coalition that includes the SOS as well as the Better Business Bureau, Department of Financial Institutions, Office of the Insurance Commissioner and more.
Glidden said they connected with RSC after meeting program coordinator Teri Burke at a Washington State Association of Senior Centers (WSASC) conference in May. Glidden said CPW attended in hopes of setting up visits and awareness fairs at senior centers throughout the state. The fair at the RSC was the third one CPW has held as a result of the conference.
Burke said they thought it was important to educate people on the different types of scams out there.
“It’s mind boggling,” she said about the number of scams she learned about at the fair.
Marty Boggs, administrator for RSC, said about 130 people attended the event, which he was told was the largest turnout of any of the fairs CPW has put on so far. He and Burke said they held the fair, not to scare people, but to just let them know to be aware and to question things.
“They were all very thankful,” he said about the attendees, adding that the presentations from last week made him more aware of scams, as well.
Glidden said the goal of the fairs is to give people the tools and knowledge to identify potential scams. They also stressed the importance of reporting scams as there is no shame in falling victim.
“Even I was the victim of a scam…they’re that good,” Glidden admitted.
Burke added, “(The scammers are) professionals. They’re very believable.”
It is important for people to report scams because for every one scam authorities are aware of, there are 43 scams they do not know about, Glidden said.
In bringing in speakers for last week’s event, Glidden coordinated with the partnering organizations of CPW. The different agencies and organizations also had information tables set up in the RSC lobby with fliers and handouts for people to take home.
In addition, the Redmond Police Department (RPD) also had a table to do their part in informing attendees of current scams. The department continued that work this week, posting on its Twitter page about a phone scam that involves scammers pretending to be from the IRS. The tweet — along with Glidden — stressed that no government agency (or legitimate business) will ever call you asking for money.
— RedmondWaPD (@RedmondWaPD) September 21, 2016
While the IRS scam targets the general public at large, there are also scams that target senior citizens specfically.
One of those scams, Glidden said, involves scammers pretending to be someone’s grandchild who has gotten in trouble while abroad and needs money. Another type of scam involves callers pretending to be from a charity, asking for donations — often telling the victim that they or their spouse had donated the previous year.
Glidden said as seniors tend to be more trusting and polite — more vulnerable to believe what they hear — and for some, in the early stages of dementia, they are the No. 1 target of scammers.
Burke understands how seniors can be an easy target. She said when she calls her 96-year-old father, if he’s just woken up from a nap, it takes a bit of time for his synapses to fire back up. It would be very easy to take advantage of someone in that situation and some people’s morality have them willing to do so, Burke said.
For more information on how to track scams, visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.