Thursday, July 19, 2012
 

 

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Statewide Elder Abuse Prevention Program launches

WHITE PLAINS — “Smart Seniors,” a statewide elder abuse prevention program designed to help seniors identify potential scams and abuses before they happen, and provide them with information they can use to stay safe and healthy in their daily lives was launched Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The new “Smart Seniors” initiative will help protect those who are often targeted for financial exploitation, identity theft, telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud, home improvement rip-offs, Internet and online scams, and physical abuse. The announcement was made as part of Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s “Senior Forum 2012.”

“To prevent senior citizens from becoming victims of fraud and abuse, we must empower them with information they can use to protect themselves,” said Schneiderman. “My office is committed to protecting all New Yorkers, especially those who are targeted for fraud and abuse. The ‘Smart Seniors’ program is another tool that we can deploy to protect vulnerable New Yorkers and to help seniors avoid becoming victims in the first place.”

Elder abuse is a serious and growing problem. The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, updated in 2011, found that the most common form of abuse was financial exploitation. The study found that the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, a 12 percent increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008. Another recent report titled "Under the Radar: New York State Elder Prevalence Abuse Study," found that for every reported case of abuse, another 23-24 cases go unreported. This underscores the critical importance of education, outreach and fraud prevention. "Smart Seniors" will help seniors protect their physical safety and their financial assets - - and avoid the devastating emotional harm that victims often feel.

As part of the program, presenters across the state will visit senior centers, assisted living facilities, libraries, houses of worship, senior clubs and other locations to teach seniors about the most common scams, the techniques perpetrators commonly use, and who to alert if they identify a scam or are victimized. Seniors will also be informed of how to protect their physical safety at home and in other common day-to-day situations.