Volunteer scambusters honored for service to senior citizens

The AARP volunteers honored at a recent ceremony in the capitol include Anthony M. Wolchasty from Southampton

The Times

Wiessmann

Secretary of banking and securities Robin L. Wiessmann recently recognized 12 senior citizens for their work with the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing and announced the renewal of a $120,000 grant from the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) to continue funding for the Campaign. The event marked a 10-year partnership with AARP Pennsylvania and the IPT in protecting senior citizens from fraud and scams.

“With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day approaching on June 15, Governor Wolf and I are proud to support the work of AARP Pennsylvania and its army of volunteers, and we are grateful for the support of the Investor Protection Trust,” Wiessmann said. “Through programs like the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing, we are creating a network of support for our senior citizens and taking active steps to protect senior citizens from elder financial abuse.”

The AARP volunteers honored at a recent ceremony in the capitol include:

  • Mary Bach, Chair of the AARP Consumer Issues Task Force, from Murrysville (Westmoreland County)
  • David Aitken from Beaver (Beaver County)
  • Eileen Mazza from Eighty Four (Washington County)
  • Allan Michael and Paige Michael from Orangeville (Columbia County)
  • Bruce Myers from Seven Valleys (York County)
  • Frances G. Scalise from State College (Centre County)
  • Deirdre Spelman from Scranton (Lackawanna County)
  • Richard Sterner from Mechanicsburg (Cumberland County)
  • Theresa Thomas-Trainer from Philadelphia
  • Anthony M. Wolchasty from Southampton (Bucks)
  • Mary Wozniak from Bethlehem (Northampton County)

The Campaign is a statewide community outreach program offered by the Pennsylvania AARP Consumer Issues Task Force and the Department of Banking and Securities, and funded by IPT, which provides retirees and senior citizens information on how to recognize, avoid, and report financial fraud and abuse. AARP volunteers work with community groups throughout Pennsylvania to provide their peers with information to protect and grow their money in retirement.

“Every day, older Americans become victims of elder investment fraud and financial exploitation. It is part of IPT’s mission to educate older adults to recognize and prevent fraud and to protect their hard-earned financial nest eggs,” said president and CEO of IPT, Don Blandin. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day gives us a powerful opportunity to raise awareness about elder fraud and to continue efforts to strengthen older adults, their families and the caring communities that support them. In the spirit of building coalitions, I thank all attendees for your leadership and contributions to investor education and protection during these turbulent economic times.”

AARP Pennsylvania state director Bill Johnston-Walsh pointed to several achievements and landmarks during the 10-year partnership:

  • Since the Campaign began, AARP volunteers have made 1,110 presentations.
  • More than 49,000 Pennsylvania senior citizens have received information about “red flags” warning them of possible financial frauds and scams.
  • The Pennsylvania Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing has been recognized as a “best practice” by the Investor Protection Trust.

“At AARP, we’re very pleased to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing that is educating older adults statewide about ways to avoid financial fraud and scams,” Johnston-Walsh said. “We’re especially proud of the AARP volunteers who are leading the campaign’s community outreach component by conducting more than 1,100 investor education presentations for nearly 50,000 state residents over that same time period.”

Wiessmann noted that the cost of financial exploitation of senior citizens in the United States is estimated to be as much as $36 billion each year, and that Adult Protective Services in Pennsylvania reports that financial exploitation is the #1 reported abuse of senior citizens.

AARP is a nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 38 million. Information about its work in Pennsylvania can be found online: https://states.aarp.org/region/pennsylvania. The Investor Protection Trust is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Information about the work of IPT can be found online: www.investorprotection.org.

Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1–800-PA-BANKS or 1–800–600–0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. Consumers and community groups can call 1–800-PA-BANKS or email informed@pa.gov for more information. Members of the public are also invited to connect to the department through Facebook and Twitter, or subscribing to the department’s newsletter.