North Dakota AARP Educates Seniors on How to Avoid Fraud

Elderly citizens lost nearly $3 billion last year in scams over the phone and online

FARGO, N.D. —┬áIn the United States, senior citizens lost nearly $3 billion last year as the result of financial scams.

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 55% of the cases of elderly fraud came under the disguise of giving money to family and friends.

“People have a tendency to be nice and give them information that they shouldn’t, and everybody has the potential to be victimized,” said Kathi Schwan, the President of the North Dakota AARP.

There are many ways that senior citizens can get scammed, but the most common are over the phone and on the internet.

To combat this widespread abuse, the North Dakota AARP hosted a luncheon at the Fargodome to give senior citizens advice on how to avoid being ripped off.

“Never buy a gift card that’s never going to be a legitimate form of currency, and we have a lot of victims that have been mailing cash. So those things, if you’re being told by anyone to use those payment methods, it’s very likely a scam,” said Tonya Hetzler, a Consumer Fraud Investigator for the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

Over 250 senior citizens were in attendance at the luncheon.

“The elderly population has a tendency to be the ones most victimized. We feel as AARP that it’s really our obligation to stay in front of this issue,” said Schwan.

For those who might think they are getting scammed, the state has simple advice.

“Check it out. Please contact someone to check it out before you follow through,” said Hetzler.

The North Dakota Attorney General’s Office says the most common forms of elder abuse over the phone include IRS and Medicare fraud, and callers that pretend to be a family member or a friend.

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