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Partnering to prevent senior fraud

First Security Bank Community Development Officer Belinda Morris (center) helped organize educational workshops and create a new brochure to raise awareness among the elderly population about the different ways seniors sometimes fall victim to scams.

 

By Carrie Stambaugh

‘Tis the season for scam artists and fraudsters.

Senior citizens and the elderly are vulnerable to scams and fraud throughout the year but they seem to get particularly hard hit around the holidays.

To help combat the problem and offer help to those who may have already fallen victim, First Security Bank Community Development Officer Belinda Morris along with the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, Batesville Police Department and the North Delta Planning and Development District Area Agency on Aging, have teamed up to educate the public on how to be scam savvy through educational workshops and a newly-created brochure.

The team hopes to help seniors avoid scams and lessen their impact if they do get caught in a fraudulent scheme.

“This time of year, we really have a lot of problems with senior citizens getting hit with all kinds of scams and frauds,” said Morris, noting she herself had two different fraudulent messages via text today regarding false UPS deliveries.

The pandemic, which has isolated many seniors and increased dependency on technology-based services for everyone has created a perfect storm for fraudsters.

Many of the fraudulent communications look very real, which is why it is important to be cautious when opening emails and text messages and giving out personal information online or over the phone.

The new brochures, which are available at all First Security Bank branches, will also be distributed at senior day and activity centers, as well as through some churches. Morris said the group is looking for more partners to help distribute the brochures.

They focus primarily on preventing fraud – including the most common types of scams – and what to do if you suspect you have been scammed, and include a list of agency telephone numbers to contact for help and to report a scam.

Most banks, including First Security Bank, have a department focused on preventing and catching fraud but it still happens, said Morris. A popular scam is sending an individual a check to deposit that looks real but only serves to give fraudsters access to your checking account when you cash it.

Other tips for avoiding fraud and scams is never giving out credit card, banking, social security, Medicare or other personal information over the phone. Never buy or give to solicitors that call or visit unannounced, or are from an unfamiliar charity or business. Ask them to send their request in writing, then do your research.

Everyone is vulnerable to scams, regardless of age or income level. Most scams and fraud go unreported because individuals are embarrassed, but it is important to report it and get help to avoid further damage and help others prevent it, officials say. If you think you have been the victim of fraud or a scam, immediately call your bank as well as the Batesville Police Department.