June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee
Wise Choices TM reminds you to secure the safety of your seniors from scams, from physical abuse and from neglect — in some cases, even from their own families.
“We find that often abuse and neglect come from family members who become stressed from the burden of caring for a loved one,” said Ken Cope, president of your #WiseChoice for in-home senior care, Home Instead Senior Care of Memphis/Southaven/Oxford. “That is why some families turn to us for help when the care of a loved one becomes too burdensome for family.”
To raise awareness of elder abuse, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization created World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in 2006. State governors have followed suit, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Haslam declared June 15, 2018 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Tennessee, one year after Tennessee lawmakers passed stronger penalties against scam artists who target seniors. Legislators made it a Class A misdemeanor to “spoof” caller ID information in order to solicit seniors with phishing calls, deceiving them into giving up their personal and financial information. Tennessee violators now face up to $10,000 in fines per violation.
“Older adults are often victims of financial fraud and identity theft because they are vulnerable to scammers,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “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 offered these protections to seniors and to their caregivers in order to avoid elder financial abuse:
- Be sure to invest with a licensed investment or financial adviser. Check an adviser’s licensure with your state’s financial institutions agency or consumer protection division.
- Beware of salespeople who prey on your fears. Only invest when you have all of the facts and feel comfortable.
- Don’t be embarrassed to report fraud or abuse. Every day you delay reporting is another day the scammer is spending your money or ripping off somebody else.
- Never buy from a stranger who calls or visits unannounced.
- Shred all paperwork containing any identifying information, health care information, banking information or passwords.
- Monitor bank and credit card statements
- Monitor your credit report (get one free from each of the credit bureaus annually at AnnualCreditReport.com) .
- Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent them from being stolen.
- Never give out your credit card number, banking account number, Social Security number, Medicare number or other personal information over the phone unless YOU initiated the call.
Cope said Home Instead Senior Care not only trains its CareGivers to spot senior scams, but it also teaches them to identify elderly physical, mental and emotional abuse.
“To commemorate (World Elder Abuse Awareness Day), Home Instead in Memphis just began a special Abuse and Neglect training class for our own CareGivers this week,” Cope said. “We will be conducting this class for all our CareGivers over the coming months. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety and security of the ones we serve.”
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