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Maryland Launches PROTECT Week to Stop Elder Fraud

Prevention and early detection of financial exploitation are key to maintaining the financial health of older Marylanders. (Pixabay)
Prevention and early detection of financial exploitation are key to maintaining the financial health of older Marylanders. (Pixabay)
January 8, 2018

BALTIMORE — Of the millions of adults who fall victim to financial fraud, the effects are often most devastating for older people. In Maryland, a new statewide campaign hopes to raise awareness - and add a layer of protection for seniors.

This is PROTECT Week, bringing together financial institutions, elder-care advocates and the state attorney general's office to help Marylanders learn about the many forms of financial abuse, neglect and exploitation faced by their older friends or relatives. Helene Raynaud, president and CEO of the nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions, said the abuse doesn't always come from strangers.

“[It could be] A caregiver or a relative who might be accessing someone's funds, or a scammer who every month sends a bill, and the person pays the bill,” Raynaud said.

She said the average victim of elder financial abuse loses upwards of $120,000.

PROTECT week runs through January 12, with a series of events around the state. Learn more online at PROTECTweek.com.

Nationally, predatory practices targeting older adults cost victims at least $3 billion per year. Raynaud said it's important for people to spot the warning signs of fraud. She warned the impact is even more widespread because many victims don't speak up.

"Because they don't have the ability to recognize the issues, what is actually happening,” she said. “So this $3 billion in losses is probably a bottom type of estimate."

Raynaud said anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated or could be a victim of financial exploitation or fraud should contact a local Long-Term Care Ombudsman, like those at the Maryland Department of Aging - or call the police.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD