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Scam Education Made Easy

From time to time the issue of resident's being scammed rears its ugly head in our community. The issue is brought to our administration usually by a brave resident or two. What usually happens after we see a pattern or increase in frequency is that the administration office sends out a memo reminding people not to fall into the current trap that was reported.

As Activities Director at the community, I think this is an opportunity for an activity. It is not necessarily a fun activity, but one that would educate the community about the current trends in scamming, and more importantly, how to avoid becoming a victim. 

First you should understand why residents living in alone, in continuing care communities, assisted livings and nursing homes are prime targets for scammers. Take a look at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) website. It addresses telemarketing fraud along with other types of scams that our resident's fall victim to. If you prefer to watch a documentary from Dan Rather about the scale of fraud against seniors, this is worthwhile. Many victims of fraud will not speak up because of the fear of embarrassment, or possibly losing the ability to get the "big prize."  After reading about the many ways fraud takes advantage of seniors and watching this video, you will see that it is very important to provide the programming necessary to help our residents avoid these evils.

In my area we were able to find a group of local seniors who presented skits on frauds affecting seniors. It was great because the audience could see the interaction between the scammer and the victim and put themselves in the victim’s position. It was done with humor, so it was fun, in a way. Here is an article about another group that does this kind of show about seniors and scams.  

If you don't have a group around your community that can perform an educational skit for your audience, you have some other options. The first is that you, the staff of the community or the residents might want to put on a skit. It would be a learning experience for those producing it as well as for those watching the final production.  The other option or educating your community might be found on the Stop Fraud website that the government sponsors. There you will find lots of resources with contact information for national and state-specific sites that might provide you with speakers who will come to your community.

Based upon my experience in working with senior adults, this is a subject that you can present to your community a few times a year. I suggest that you put a new spin on it each time, with a new speaker or with a skit, to assure the residents continue to come to the program. I believe that residents can't hear about this enough. Also, encourage those who attend to bring someone else with them. A victim may be reluctant to attend for fear that she might be recognized as a victim.

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