COLORADO SPRINGS — Mental health experts in southern Colorado say they’re seeing more people seeking help after falling victim to scams and fraud. News5 finds out why experts believe it’s happening and what we can do to better support our friends and loved ones who were targeted by fraudsters.
Do you know someone who has lost money to a fraudster? It happens a lot, last year the Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.8 million fraud reports and consumers lost $5.8 billion dollars.
But it turns out fraudsters are stealing more than just money and sensitive information. Mental health experts tell me they’re also robbing people of their self esteem, confidence, and for many seniors their sense of independence. It’s why talking about these issues and thinking about how we respond to these crimes matters so much.
“Definitely more frequently,” said Mark Jankelow of Springbok Health.
Jankelow and his staff work to help people in Pueblo and Colorado Springs to conquer mental health challenges.
One of the most frequent problems his clients are facing…
“Definitely more frequently,” said Jankelow.
The shame of losing money and information to a fraudster.
”Now this person is ripped-off. They’ve lost money, they’ve lost faith, they’ve lost face. Some of them are really struggling right now,” said Jankelow.
He says in many cases things only get worse for these victims of fraud when they’re shamed by people they trust.
”The worst thing is to make them think it was their fault because they are already guilty,” said Jankelow.” Don’t say to them things like, mom, you should have known better, what have I told you? They are already a victim and they already have self esteem issues over it. Don’t make them feel ashamed or embarrassed.”
John Breyault with the National Consumers League says the psychological impact of these experiences slows reporting and fuels the problem.
”These fraudsters thrive because they know consumers are hesitant to report that they've been victims,” said Breyault. “You may not be able to save yourself or save the money you spent but you'll definitely help protect other people.”
Jankelow says he’s the most concerned about the mental health impacts of fraud on seniors and military veterans of all ages.
”If a fraudster gets a hold of those type of people and gets something out of them they are almost assured that those people are not going to report something,” said Jankelow. “That’s a huge compromised population.”
While he’s noticed an increasing need for mental health services for fraud victims, Jankelow says he’s encouraged people are trying to find someone to talk to about the experience. He says that’s how we need to chip away at this massive problem.
”Making people feel comfortable about speaking about it and even admitting this is what’s happened. How can we make this right? How can we fix this? It’s absolutely essential,” said Jankelow.
Blackmail is another strategy fraudsters will use against their victims, making people feel isolated and telling them if they talk to anyone things will only get worse. But keep in mind, talking with a mental health professional there are confidentiality rules that allow you to get help and protect your privacy.
Help with talking to friends and loved ones about fraud and scams: https://www.koaa.com/money/consumer/how-to-help-seniors-deal-with-frequent-scam-calls-and-fraudster-attacks
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