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New Tripoli Bank seminar helps seniors avoid scams

The “golden years” aren’t always golden for some senior citizens who become victims of elder abuse.

Government officials presented a “Scam and Fraud Prevention” seminar on Sept. 25 at New Tripoli Bank, 4892 Buckeye Road, Emmaus, to tell seniors about common scams and what they can do to avoid them.

Megan Wieand, executive aide for Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin, told seniors elder abuse encompasses “all types of abuse, whether physical, financial, sexual, psychological, abandonment or neglect.”

She said some seniors are hesitant to report abuse for many reasons. Others want to report it, but don’t know where to go.

“The worst response to elder abuse is doing nothing,” Wieand said.

The Lehigh County’s District Attorney’s Office created an Elder Abuse Task Force in 2007, Wieand told the audience.

Part of the task force’s agenda was to provide an outlet to report elder abuse.

If a senior thinks he or she is a victim of abuse or if they know of someone who is, that person should contact the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services.

“All reports are taken seriously and are treated on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

Katrina Boyer, a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, presented a session on cybersecurity.

“Our goal is to help you think about Internet safety, so that no one can steal your information for their own gain,” Boyer said.

While no one will ever be completely safe from identity theft online, Boyer said there are steps one can take to reduce that possibility.

She told seniors to use the most recent version of their web browser and to make sure they are using an “https” address not an “http” address as they are using it for transactions.”

Boyer also advised seniors to keep their anti-virus and anti-malware programs up-to-date and think about developing more creative passwords, particularly passwords for email accounts.

“If they (criminals) get access to your email, they have access to almost everything,” she said.

Boyer offered many tips, but in general the longer the password, the better. Also she recommended seniors change their passwords once every three months.

When the topic shifted to social media usage, she told seniors its better to be safe, than sorry.

“We want to believe we can trust everyone,” Boyer said. “But we can’t. Criminals are really good at recreating things to make it look legitimate.”

That “legitimacy” can include recreating logos similar to official company logos. Often these are used to send seniors - or for that matter anyone - emails or social media messages requesting information.

Once obtained, they would be used for nefarious ends to compromise seniors fiscal or information security.

To that end, Boyer told seniors to not accept every friend request on Facebook and to be careful with whom they interact.

PRESS PHOTO BY STEPHEN ALTHOUSEKatrina Boyer, of the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, gives a presentation on“Scam and Fraud Prevention” Sept. 25 at New Tripoli Bank, Emmaus. Copyright - Copyright 2009