The Fowlerville Police Department worked to inform senior citizens about scams and how to avoid becoming a victim with a presentation Tuesday.

The event, “Senior Scams”, was held at the United Brethren Church in Fowlerville and educated guests about the different types of scams circulating in the community, as well as proactive and reactive measures that are being taken to combat them. Guest speakers from Livingston County Catholic Charities and Adult Protective Services also shared information on resources that are available to seniors to better protect themselves from scams or what to do if they think they’ve become a victim.

Chief John Tyler of the Fowlerville Police Department says some popular scams currently circulating locally involve the scammer claiming to be from the IRS and are seeking back taxes, from a jail where the victim’s family member is incarcerated in order to obtain bail money or from the Sheriff’s Office regarding failure to appear for jury duty and demanding the victim pay a fine. Chief Tyler says no legitimate entity would seek payment or ask for personal information over the phone.

Chief Tyler says one of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim is to shut down a scammer before they even get started. He wants seniors to know it’s okay to hang up the phone on these scammers even if it seems rude or to threaten to call the police.

Tyler says senior citizens are often targeted because they sometimes have trouble spotting fraud or are naturally trusting. He believes the reported statistic that seniors make up 30% of fraud victims is actually quite low, noting many don’t want to admit they’ve become a victim or are unsure of how to report the crime. Reporting it to the police department is one way for authorities to address the problem, but Tyler cautions if money has already been sent or wired, it can be difficult or nearly impossible to get back; hence the preventative measures being taken to educate seniors before they get into that position.

Tyler says scammers should not be doubted, as they can be extremely creative and are usually two steps ahead of their intended victim. Above all else, Tyler reiterated, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Local resources dedicated to preventing elder financial abuse can be found at the link below. (DK)