The Beard Center on Aging at University of Lynchburg is hosting a conference aimed at protecting older adults from scams and financial exploitation. The event, “SAFE: A Conference on Scams and Financial Exploitation” will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in Schewel Hall at University of Lynchburg. The conference is for both older adults and those who serve that population.
The cost is $10 for people ages 65 and older, $25 for Consortium on Aging members, and $35 for general admission. A limited number of scholarships are available and lunch is provided. The conference is sponsored by the Beard Center, AARP Virginia, and Senior News Magazine.
SAFE is an acronym for “Scams and Financial Exploitation,” two things that Denise Scruggs, director of the Beard Center, said are on the rise in the area. “We’re doing the conference in response to results that came out through the Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services, Adult Protective Services Division,” she said. “They did a report and they said the number of financial exploitations are going up in southwestern Virginia. They don’t handle scams, but we already knew that scams were increasing.”
According to Scruggs, not only are the number of scams and financial exploitation incidents increasing but the types and intensity. “Using technology, selling products, using phone calls. There’s just a lot more variety,” she said. “There’s increased variety and they push it more. They’re more aggressive. How they act is more aggressive and therefore a lot of people are being taken advantage of before they realize it.”
At the conference, experts from AARP Virginia, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central and Western Virginia, and Adult Protective Services will be on hand to speak and answer questions. Topics covered will include tips for preventing, recognizing and responding to scams and financial exploitation; common scams directed at older adults; and strategies for working with older adults who are victims of financial exploitation and scams.
AARP Virginia will sponsor a free document shredding from 8 to 10 a.m. There is a two-box limit per person. Exhibitor opportunities also are available. Scruggs said exhibitors should be individuals or organizations that serve the older adult population.
Scruggs recalled a recent scam in Central Virginia, where older adults were being targeted by people claiming to be law enforcement. The caller would tell them they’d missed jury duty and that they had to pay or go to jail. So, out of fear, they’d pay up.
“People were sending [money] to them so they wouldn’t go to jail,” Scruggs said. “We have not been doing a lot of prevention and that’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re bringing the issue to people’s attention because we’re seeing a huge increase, as well as more savvy scammers. We’re very concerned. A lot of people are getting hurt with this.”
For more information or to register, call 434.544.8456, email , or visit www.lynchburg.edu/beard.