Today, Montana's Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, in partnership with the Division of Criminal Investigation administrator Bryan Lockerby joined officials at Stockman Bank in Billings on World Elder Abuse Day to remind Montana seniors to stay aware and to take precautions, as scammers frequently target the elderly population.

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According to AARP, more than 369,000 nationwide incidents of financial abuse targeting older adults happen yearly in the United States.

AG Knudsen stated:

“Those who prey on seniors are some of the worst kinds of criminals, and at the Montana Department of Justice, we’re committed to holding them accountable. But it’s going to take more than government action. To help prevent elder abuse, Montanans should keep in contact and talk frequently with older friends, neighbors, and relatives. Educate yourself on the signs, and be aware and alert for the possibility of abuse.

The Division of Criminal Investigation within the Montana Department of Justice oversees three departments working to protect elders in Montana.

  1. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit
    1. Providing direct assistance to investigate elder abuse and exploitation within healthcare facilities criminally
  2. The Office of Consumer Protection
    1. Protecting seniors from financial exploitation
  3. The Elder Justice Unit
    1. Combating financial exploitation, abuse, and other crimes against Montana's older population

What are the common elder scams?

The most common is the Grandparent Scam, where scammers pretend to be a grandchild needing money. Other scams that have risen in popularity are romance scams, where scammers target lonely seniors looking to build a romantic relationship, or even law enforcement scams claiming to be from local law enforcement.

MT Attorney General Austin Knudsen offers these tips to avoid falling for scams in Montana:

  • Don’t give out personal information to someone soliciting it from you over the phone or the Internet. Banks and government agencies will never call and ask for your personal information.
  • Never wire or give money to someone you don’t know. Don’t send gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or cryptocurrency to someone you do not know. Even if you think it’s someone you know, follow up to make sure before you wire any money.
  • Use common sense and do your due diligence: ask around, talk to others, and call the Office of Consumer Protection if you have any doubts or questions.
  • Be skeptical, resist high-pressure tactics, and take your time. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Montanans can report any phone, email, or mail scam to the Montana Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Protection by clicking the button below or calling 1-800-481-6896.


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