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Donnelly's State Fair Hearing Warns Of Senior Scams

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Senator Joe Donnelly is working with groups such as AARP and the Indiana Attorney General to help seniors identify scams aimed at stealing their savings and identities. 

Donnelly serves on the Senate Special Committee on Aging and Tuesday he took a hearing on the road, holding a meeting at the Indiana State Fair. 

Several organizations, including the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Attorney General and the Secret Service participated, with a goal of helping empower seniors to identify financial predators. 

Donnelly says seniors are particularly at risk because they often have more savings than younger people and they’re often more isolated, living alone.

“They haven’t talked to anyone in a while and for some seniors, the person calling tries to act like they’re their friends, somebody who cares about them and is interested in them,” Donnelly says.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office holds information sessions around the state, telling seniors about current scams but also helping identify warning signs that apply to almost all frauds.  He says the first red flag is unsolicited calls or emails.

“Stop the transaction and make your own contacts," Zoeller says.  "So if they say you’re a relative, call one of the relatives.  If they say they’re from the government, call somebody in the government.”

Zoeller and Donnelly say current scams include phone calls about winning a Jamaican lottery and messages about sending money for relatives on vacation who need help. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.