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Experts educate seniors on protecting themselves from fraud and scams

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

ALTUS, OK (KSWO) - Oklahoma seniors are vulnerable to identity fraud and scams, so the Oklahoma Insurance Department is on mission making sure they know how to protect themselves. On Tuesday, they held a conference in Altus providing tips and tools for them.

Whether it was insurance fraud, Medicare fraud, IRS scams, or phone solicitors asking for money, seniors had the opportunity to ask experts from the Attorney General's Office, the Oklahoma Security Commission and Bankers Association on what to do if they believe they become a victim of fraud.

Altus resident Geraldine Bishop said she has been targeted by scammers before, including one who called claiming to be her grandson who was in jail.

"The fellow called me and I said there is no way I'm going to give you money my grandsons are toddlers and that was," said Bishop.

Bishop said it frustrates her that people are targeting older citizens.

"It makes me so mad! I haven't had any problems with it and I have never given any money like some people have, but that makes me furious...just the fact that they think they can prey on you," Bishop said.

Divisional Director for the Medicare Assistance Program at the Oklahoma Insurance Department Ray Walker said scammers often target the elderly because.

"They have the money,they have had most of their life to save up their money, they are no longer raising their families and stuff so they probably have some money socked away, so it makes it a bigger take for the criminals," said Walker.

Walker said another huge problem is Medicare fraud. He said they field about 25,000 calls a year related to that.

"A lot of times the people we are dealing with may not be the seniors themselves.Its a family member or someone else that's a care giver or a close friend or something that suspects something may be going on so frequently the senior doesn't want to believe they have been taking advantage of, its a hard pill to swallow," said Walker.

Another topic was disaster relief fraud. In Oklahoma, storms can strike any time of the year.  Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Consumer Protection Unit Julie Bays said it's vital to resist the urge to act quickly on repairing storm damage.  

"Go to the command center, do not rush, do not write down or sign your name to anything for anybody that just drives up to your door because you're going to get a lot of those contractors driving through the neighborhoods immediately after some kind of disaster," said Bays.

Tuesday's speakers also want those of us with elderly relatives to check on them, and occasionally ask for access to their bank accounts to help them look for any suspicious activity. If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft or fraud, call police.

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