SALT LAKE CITY — Monday is "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day," and investigators with the Utah Division of Securities are seeing a surge of scams across the state targeting seniors - especially in Washington County.
“It’s not necessarily telemarketers that are calling them or mailing them," said Tom Brady, Director of the Utah Division of Securities. "Unfortunately, it’s somebody they know.”
Some of the warning signs include when there’s a new friend or caregiver in a senior’s life and the senior gets defensive when asked about that relationship.
Sudden changes in spending habits or lifestyle can also be a red flag.
And while it may be uncomfortable to talk to your loved ones about money -- or to say "no" to someone asking for something -- it can be the difference between a happy retirement and losing everything.
“A senior in their retirement, their expectation is ‘I’ve worked my life and now I want to sail into the sunset and live the way I want to live’ and turns out no, they get evicted. They have to go back to work at 80 years old. And their entire life is shot financially," Brady said. "And not only financially, but it takes a hit on their self-esteem. They’re embarrassed, they’re ashamed."
Brady says in most cases, once a scammer gets your money, it’s gone.
That’s why awareness and prevention is so important.
Look for those red flags, then do some research and use your resources.
Check with a financial professional before investing money, and blame them if you need an excuse to say "no."
You can also reach the Utah Division of Securities through email – at email@example.com or over the phone at 801-530-6600.
They can tell you if an investment is legitimate.