VENTURA, Calif. – At their June 12 meeting, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors recognized the month of June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Elder abuse is on the rise in Ventura County, increasing by over 5 percent since 2013. Continuing a five-year trend, financial abuse is the most frequent type of elder abuse in the County.
This past year, the Human Services Agency partnered with the Sheriff’s Department to develop a public service announcement that raised awareness about the proliferation of scams and financial crimes targeted to senior citizens. In the video, Detective Tim Lohman discusses common scams that involve phony romances; individuals pretending to be grandchildren in distress; demands for fees in order to claim bogus prizes; false promises of foreign lottery winnings; manufactured email requests for banking information; and threats from individuals impersonating tax or debt collectors. Many scammers are now demanding payment in the form of brand name gift cards or prepaid cards for online retailers. The video may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgPgWLQhOEY
“Almost every day the Human Services Agency receives calls about scams. Many of the techniques the perpetrators use are believable to seniors, so raising awareness about scams is critical for reducing financial abuse,” stated Mary Snider, manager of the Adult Protective Services program.
The Adult Protective Services (APS) program offers help to those experiencing abuse or who are at risk of abuse. Adult Protective Services is a 24-hour program administered by the Human Services Agency that investigates suspected abuse, neglect and self-neglect of adults who are aged 65 and older (elders), and adults who are aged 18-64 but who are vulnerable due to disabilities (dependent adults). Abuse sometimes takes place at the hands of a stranger, but friends, neighbors and even family members can and do commit abuse and neglect. If APS receives a report of suspected financial abuse, social workers investigate and may assist with securing restraining orders, changing bank accounts, and linking victims to law enforcement or legal services if needed. Additionally, social workers assess the victim’s overall circumstances, ensuring that the elder has sufficient food, medications, working utilities, and other services that can improve safety, health and well-being. Since APS is a voluntary program, individuals may choose to accept or decline help.
If you suspect elder or dependent adult abuse or neglect, call APS’ 24-Hour Abuse Reporting Hotline at 805-654-3200. To request information, call APS at 805-658-4453.