"They're looked at by scammers as cash cows. Our seniors are the nicest group of people and sometimes we have to teach them, when it's in their best interest to say no, to not open the door, to hang up the phone." - CSLEA Unit A Vice President Kenny Ehrman
They came by the dozens early on a Saturday morning. Armed with pens, papers, notes and questions, senior citizens convened at the Santa Clara Senior Center April 5th for a Senior Scam Stopper Seminar hosted by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski
in partnership with the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association Consumer Protection and Public Safety Foundation (CSLEA-CPPS), the State Bar of California and the City of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department.
"This was a great opportunity for our seniors to be brought up to date on the latest scams, particularly those that target the elderly," said CSLEA Unit A Vice President Kenny Ehrman. "Just to have someone in law enforcement tell them, it's okay to question those who call or come to your home, it's okay not to answer the door, it's okay to hang up the phone. Be curious, be cautious, call a family member to help explain things you may not understand."
Ehrman, an investigator with the Department of Motor Vehicles, was among the panelists who spoke to seniors about identity theft and fraud relating to auto sales and repairs, charities, financial schemes, home improvement, insurance, telemarketing and real estate.
"They were an impressive group with a lot of questions," said Ehrman. "They want to know who they can trust and who they can't and how to tell the difference. We talked about not carrying social security cards in wallets, keeping only necessary documents in the glove compartment of their cars, shredding the mail, not placing checks in unsecure mailboxes. We covered a lot in two hours and they still had time for one-on-one questions and to pick up information to take home and read."
Master of Ceremonies Former State Senator Joe Dunn's friendly, approachable personality made even the shyest of seniors feel right at home. Some attendees stood up and asked their own questions of the panelists while others were given the opportunity to write down their questions for Dunn to read aloud. Dunn, State Bar of California CEO/Executive Director, also addressed the issues of unlicensed practice of law, complaints about attorneys and the Client Security Fund.
In addition to Ehrman and Dunn, the panelists included California Bureau of Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell, Sheri Boles with the California Public Utilities Commission, CSLEA Member/Bureau of Automotive Repairs Program Representative II/SP Lance West and CSLEA Member/DMV Investigator Carlos Cabrera.
"Our senior citizens are to be respected and looked after, not to be ripped-off," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "Because there are more scam artists than there are cops, we need to educate seniors on ways they can protect themselves, their finances and their personal sense of security. They are a wonderful, trusting bunch but, unfortunately, that makes them vulnerable to the unscrupulous who prey upon them. I can't thank our CSLEA CPPS Foundation folks for giving their time on a Saturday to help out. It speaks to their character and about their dedication and their passion to protect and serve the citizens of California."
The Senior Scam Stopper Seminar April 5, 2014 was one in a series of seminars throughout the state. CSLEA CPPS Foundation also participated in Senator Kevin de León's seminar in Los Angeles March 22nd and will participate the seminars listed below. All are free and open to the public.
Assemblyman Don Wagner: Seniors Scam Stoppers Event
Date: Friday, April 18, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Place: Irvine Senior Center
20 Lake Road, Irvine, CA 92604
RSVP: Ivy Ridd (714) 665-6868 MUST RSVP FOR THIS EVENT
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez: Fraud Prevention Town Hall Meeting
Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Place: Chula Vista Public Library
365 F Street, Chula Vista, CA