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Act Fast: A Hotline for Elderly Financial Fraud Victims

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If you’re a senior citizen who suspects you’ve been scammed in a financial fraud, or if you are the adult child of a senior facing a possible financial scam, a new hotline may help you report the problem and get help.

But you’ll have to act fast. The hotline will only be open for one day: Nov. 10. And the hours will be limited, too. The hotline will only operate between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

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“We have witnessed a growing number of older Americans fall victim to financial swindles,” Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust, the nonprofit group that is organizing the hotline project, said in a prepared statement. “Millions are in danger of being exploited. That’s why we’re hosting this national hotline.

People who call in will be referred to experts in financial planning, adult protective services and medical care for the elderly.  In addition to helping individual seniors and their caregivers, the hotline’s other major goal is to gather data on the most prevalent forms of financial abuse experienced by seniors. That complaint data will be given to state and federal regulatory agencies to help them detect and fight crime, Blandin said.

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To encompass all the different types of financial problems seniors might encounter, the hotline will actually consist of three different numbers for three different types of concerns:

Financial Abuse Questions 888-303-3297. People who call this number will be connected to an expert in adult protective services and elder financial abuse. Callers can ask for tips on how to spot common scams, and steps they can take if they suspect they’ve already become a victim.

– General Finance Questions 888-227-1776. Callers can use this number to ask questions about their family’s financial security. They’ll learn how to find trustworthy financial professionals, and adult children of senior citizens can learn how to help their parents avoid investment fraud and other scams.

– Medical Questions 888-303-0430. Callers to this number can get medical advice, including how to recognize mild cognitive impairment that may limit a senior citizen’s ability to manage her finances.

The hotline will be funded and staffed by a variety of nonprofit and professional organizations, including the Texas Consortium Geriatric Education Center.

“A growing number of medical practitioners are recognizing that money lost by their older patients due to financial exploitation adversely affects their health status,” the consortium’s director, Bob Roush, said in a statement.  The goal of the EIFFE program is for every practitioner who sees older persons to be aware of the issue and know what they can do to help their patients avoid becoming a victim.”

[Related article: Seniors Get a Raise in 2012]

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