In a presentation Tuesday at the Sheridan Senior Center about identify theft and scams, a local police detective warned that most serious money frauds involving senior citizens are perpetrated by caretakers, family and friends the senior trusts.
Detective Jerry Rasmussen said the best action people can take to avoid scams is to protect their own money. He told his audience not to give out credit card information, Social Security numbers or any other identifying materials. Even if a scam artist is caught, he said, the victims won't get their money back.
The police detective was one of four speakers at the center's “When I'm Sixty-Four” life planning presentation this week. He was among four people who discussed, not only identity theft and scams, but elder abuse. The others on the panel were Lesley Osen from the Wyoming Attorney General's consumer protection unit, Jordan Dempsey with the Department of Family Services, and First Northern Bank of Sheridan President Justin West.
The bank president advised listeners to keep a close relationship with people at their bank. He said banks watch for abnormal transactions and patterns that could indicate identity theft. He also cautioned against adding other people to your banking account unless there is a really good reason to do so.
The attorney general's representative talked about scams, and said her office is working on a website that will, when finished, include a scam alert. She said if you suspect a phone call might be a scam, ask for the caller's phone number. If the person won't give a number, hang up.
The Department of Family Services representative said Wyoming law calls on anyone who suspects an elderly person is being physically or emotionally abused or exploited to report those suspicions. She said her department cannot make people leave their homes to go into a nursing home, but she can work with people to make help available.