NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s older adults are oftentimes the targets of scammers, financial con artists, bad actors, and other abusers intent on causing them harm or stealing their financial resources and dignity.
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. The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging recently estimated that older Americans lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually due to financial exploitation.
To help draw attention to the problem, June is recognized as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee has proclaimed Monday, June 15, 2020, as Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In support of Governor Lee’s proclamation, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Insurance, Securities, and Regulatory Boards divisions are joining other Tennessee state agencies to warn seniors and their families to help them avoid falling victim to identity theft, financial abuse, and other scams and harmful activities.
“Tennessee’s older adults are one of the Volunteer State’s greatest resources — and, unfortunately, they are often the victims of financial fraud and identity theft because of their vulnerability and social isolation from family and friends,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “Today, I’m proud to highlight the work of our team and other state agencies who are working together during the COVID-19 pandemic to shine a light on elder abuse and financial exploitation. By working together, we can raise awareness and prevent our seniors from becoming victims. I urge my fellow Tennesseans to promptly report any suspicions of elder abuse to the appropriate agency.”
Commissioner Mainda has highlighted the importance of learning the warning signs of elder abuse in a recent video and as well as a blog post that’s available here.
TDCI offers the following tips to help Tennessee’s elderly residents and their loved ones recognize and avoid financial exploitation and fraud:
Senior Investor Tips
- If a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution. Swindlers can take advantage of your good manners.
- Make sure you know who you are investing with. You can ensure a broker-dealer or broker-dealer agent is licensed here.
- Beware of salespeople who prey upon your fears. Fear can blind your good judgment. Only invest when you have all the facts and feel comfortable.
- Don’t be embarrassed to report fraud or abuse. Every day you delay reporting fraud or abuse is another day the scammer is spending your money and finding new victims
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
- 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.
- Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security number, Medicare number, or other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call.
- If someone calls you and threatens you with arrest or harm unless you pay them via wire transfer or a gift card, hang up immediately. You’re dealing with a scammer. Report the call to your local law enforcement agency.
If you suspect that you or a loved one might be a victim of securities or insurance fraud, or if you 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/.