Attorney General Eric Schmitt shows Senior citizens how they can avoid getting scammed

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–What are the most common ways senior citizens get scammed, and how can they be avoided?

Robocalls, mail fraud, and identity theft are just three of many scams that impact the elderly.

Today, March 5, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt offered advice to seniors in Springfield about this very issue.

Debbie Prothero sat in on Schmitt’s presentation when just four weeks ago, she was a victim of bank fraud. Someone took a good chunk of her money out of her checking account. She says she immediately knew something was wrong when she checked her bank app.

Debbie Prothero, a senior citizen, says, “It’s really sad because most senior citizens are on a fixed income.”

Prothero says she did end up getting her money back a week later.

Schmitt says hearing about these scams prompted him to create what is called the safe citizens initiative. The goal of that initiative is to raise awareness and protect the elderly.

“You look at the thing and it says you have 69 cents left in your bank, and you’re like what? I have more than 69 cents,” Prothero said.

Prothero then immediately drove to the bank and learned what was going on.

“They had taken all my money out of my checking account,” Prothero said. “Someone must have skimmed my card.”

Scammers used her card to make purchases in Texas.

“The bank, they disputed the charges and I got my money back about a week later,” Prothero said. “And then it took me probably another week or so to get a new card.”

Prothero’s happy ending doesn’t change how she feels about what happened.

“It was devastating,” Prothero said. “I’m on a fixed income so that’s even more traumatic. Then you’re afraid to use your card afterward.”

Schmitt says identity theft is just one of many examples of elderly scams.

“There’s a bunch of them,” Schmitt said. “I think what you’re seeing now is a rise in two types.”

One is receiving a call from someone claiming they work for the government.

“Saying that ‘you need to pay ‘x’ number of dollars or we’re gonna come find you, you’re in trouble, you’re gonna go to jail,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt says this is not how government agencies work.

“None of those entities like that are going to reach out to you by telephone,” Schmitt said. “You know if you get a call like that to hang up.”

The second most common scam Schmitt mentions is the grandparent scam.

“Where a loved one seems to be in a high-stress situation,” Schmitt said. “Maybe claiming to be in prison or in real trouble and if money isn’t sent immediately, they’re gonna find that trouble.”

Which can be avoided by hanging up the phone.

“These are high-stress situations, but just take a step back and realize that there’s a lot of folks out there trying to take your money, unfortunately,” Schmitt said. “But we’re here to help too so once that happens to reach out to our office let us know, we’ll pursue them.”

Schmitt says hearing about these scams prompted him to create what is called the safe citizens initiative. The goal of that initiative is to raise awareness and protect the elderly.

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