AARP Maryland, the Maryland Attorney General, Comptroller of Maryland, Maryland Department of Aging, Maryland Department of Human Services, Office of Financial Regulation in the Maryland Department of Labor, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office — along with a coalition of federal, local government, business and consumer groups — are kicking off PROTECT Week, a statewide awareness and education campaign targeting elder abuse and financial exploitation.
PROTECT Week is an annual initiative anchored around World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15.
“Elder abuse and financial exploitation are serious problems in our state, we must do everything we can to prevent them,” said AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg. “PROTECT Week is a great opportunity for Marylanders to learn more about these issues and what they can do to help keep their loved ones safe.”
“Every year, thousands of older adults fall victim to financial exploitation, and the consequences can be severe,” Comptroller Brooke Lierman said. “Our office is proud to join the many partners involved in PROTECT Week 2023 to ensure that Marylanders are provided the information needed to help identify and avoid scams, so they are fully aware of the risks – and how to avoid them.”
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in 10 Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse— and financial exploitation is the most common type.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect.
“Our older Marylanders have dedicated their lives to raising families, building our communities, and growing our economy. They deserve to live with dignity and without fear of exploitation and abuse,” said Attorney General Anthony Brown. “These heartbreaking abuses can occur at the hands of trusted friends and family, as well as complete strangers. The best protection is information, which is why PROTECT Week is so important.”
“Our team is committed to promoting the safety, stability and independence of seniors in our communities,” said Maryland Department of Human Services Secretary Rafael López. “We need your help. Each financial exploitation case we open starts with a report from someone who is concerned. We do not know there’s a problem unless you say something. So, if you suspect someone is being abused, neglected or exploited in any way, take action.”
Marylanders can call 1-800-91Prevent (1-800-917-7383) if they suspect ill treatment of any senior citizen.
“The Maryland Department of Aging is committed to the safety and well-being of older Marylanders and supports efforts across multiple sectors and state agencies to achieve that end. Our goal is to provide protections for older people, including teaching them how to protect themselves,” said Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Carmel Roques.
“As Maryland’s consumer financial protection agency, my office is proud to be a part of Protect Week to bring attention to the dangers of senior financial exploitation,” said Commissioner of Financial Regulation Tony Salazar. “Fraud can happen to anyone -we encourage older adults and their loved ones to learn how to protect themselves and to not be afraid to report incidents of financial abuse.”
“People do not ‘lose’ money to scammers,” reminded AARP Executive Council Member Karen Morgan. “Their money is stolen, by criminals who use emotional manipulation as a weapon.”