COLORADO SPRINGS — The FBI says our seniors continue to be a top target for fraud and scams. The results can be devastating for our older neighbors on fixed incomes.
”The one that’s the most scary for me is grandchildren one where you pick up the phone and your grandchild is theoretically on the phone saying they need help," Candace Lehmann told News5. "So my suggestion and I’ve done this with my kids is get a code word. So, if you have a code word and it’s mentioned it’s real. If not, just hang up.”
Lehman says it’s important to get familiar with the ongoing scam and fraud attacks seniors like her are facing over the phone and online in our communities.
“They do target the elderly because we are all tempted,” said Lehmann.
She’s now working to lead a local AARP chapter in Black Forest that meets once a month, sharing her knowledge and providing a safe space for seniors to talk about the issues they face and even mistakes they’ve made.
“You're safe and you say you know, I did something stupid, I’m trying to recover whatever I can, but let me tell you what happened to me so it won’t happen to you. It’s very important,” said Lehmann.
Federal investigators share Lehmann’s concerns about fraud and scams impacting our aging communities. In fact, last year the FBI reports more than 88,000 seniors over the age of 60 made scam complaints reporting financial losses of more than $3.1 billion.
The State Director for AARP Colorado Sara Schueneman tells News5 it’s why the organization is working so hard to empower seniors with skills and information. The number of seniors struggling with scams hits close to home.
”Unfortunately it’s happening so much more than we recognize and I’ve had two loved ones in the last two days share with me scams that have happened to them," said Schueneman. "So, I think it’s really important to know who they can go to and who they can trust. A lot of the scammers are telling them not to talk to anyone.”
”When a senior gets ripped off like that they go into isolation mode," said Lehmann. "They might not go out and buy food. They might just sit at home and moan over the thing that happened to them. They’ve got to understand there’s a group out there that can help you.”
Whether it’s turning to AARP Colorado, or to fellow seniors who are facing the same challenges in our communities, the end goal is the same. Talking to someone is better than living in isolation, especially if you’re a senior that’s been taken advantage of.
”We don’t want anybody to get hurt, scammed and then be shamed or not eat, or sit at home and be ostracized because everybody makes mistakes," said Lehmann. "So, we want to prevent and help if people do make mistakes. There’s no shame.”
If you'd like to connect with the experts at AARP Colorado for help with an issue you or a senior in your life may be facing you can visit https://states.aarp.org/colorado/
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.