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JCHE Fights Scams Targeting Older Americans

Posted: December 21, 2016

We recently published the inaugural issue of Thriving in Community, JCHE's newsletter featuring timely stories and information. The scam prevention story is reproduced below. 

     “Everyone had a story,” recalls Jen Rich, JCHE’s Shillman House Resident Service Coordinator, who organized two interactive seminars last September to help protect residents from today’s ubiquitous internet, phone, and mail scams.  

     While none of us are immune to scams, older adults tend to be more vulnerable—especially seniors with memory loss. And so in the spirit of our tireless commitment to improving the wellbeing of our cherished seniors, we were determined to equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary to deter scam artists.        

     The first seminar featured Framingham Detective Sergeant Sean Riley, who gave a two hour presentation to residents and their families on what residents should look for to detect scams. His tips included noting that the IRS will never call you without first mailing you a letter, and stressing the importance of never second-guessing yourself when you realize you’re being scammed.

     As residents shared their stories, our most heartbreaking takeaway was how vulnerable and even ashamed residents felt for having been taken advantage of. 

     But as the seminar progressed, residents felt more and more comfortable opening up about their experiences, and soon the feeling of embarrassment evaporated. This comfort derived from knowing you’re not alone and that there’s someone to support you epitomizes our Aging in Community philosophy.   

     During the second seminar, Shillman’s computer instructor showed residents what a phishing email looks like, and taught them how to differentiate between a real website and a fake website. She also suggested residents sign up for www.nomorobo.com, which stops robocalls to your landline.     

     Our dedicated staff know that even these engaging seminars cannot prevent every scam. And that’s why they encourage residents to continuously report suspicious emails and phone calls. Whenever a resident brings a scam to Jen’s attention, she researches it, and then posts what residents should be on the lookout for on Shillman’s Resident Information Board.

     As a result of these initiatives, Jen says residents are increasingly reporting potential scams. “They’re definitely more aware,” she adds.     

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