JCSO campaign aimed at protecting elderly from phone scams

As part of their Scam Prevention Campaign, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office has produced materials meant to inform seniors of common scams, and how to avoid them. (JCSO)

After reports of multiple phone scams hitting Jackson County and surrounding communities, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office is making an effort to protect the people they say are most vulnerable.

JCSO said senior citizens are a frequent target for scammers, which is why the office started the Scam Prevention Campaign. The campaign features flyers, brochures and pamphlets educating people about the warning signs of scams, and what to do if they think they're being victimized.

The Sheriff's Office has teamed up with the Department of Human Service's senior program to distribute the flyers to the elderly through a variety of programs.

"We're so excited that the Jackson County Sheriff's Office produced these flyers because we cant get them out to all kinds of venues," said Kathie Young, District Manager for the Aging and People with Disabilities Department. "Foods and Friends, which is the Meals on Wheels program, is taking them out everywhere."

JCSO said part of the challenge in protecting seniors is reaching them. While the office often posts information about common scam tactics on social media, elderly people are less likely to use that technology, and may not have access to other information outlets.

According to Young, scammers often prey on emotional weaknesses in their victims by acting distressed or appearing trustworthy. In that way, she said, scammers are deceptive, convincing and incredibly patient.

"Many times seniors are vulnerable to these scams because they're lonely," said Young. "It's a draw to people to have somebody call and take an interest, listen to their story, and then widdle information out of them that eventually costs the victim a lot of money, if not heartache."

Scammers have also been known to use intimidation when demanding money from victims. In a recent case shared by the JCSO, a man lost $1,500 to a scammer who called claiming to be a police officer. The caller told the man he had missed jury duty and now had a warrant for his arrest. The man paid the money for fear of serving jail time.

In that particular case, the victim did not use the internet or watch local news-- outlets that warn the public of common scams and how to avoid them. It's the hope of JCSO that the campaign materials will reach seniors in similar situations.

The Sheriff's Office will be providing Scam Prevention Campaign materials to other social service agencies. If your organization is interested in posting a flyer or brochure, please contact Sgt. Julie Denney at (541) 770-8927.

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