“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That was the advice given by Police Captain David Smith last week when the county’s new Silver Shield program was launched at the Lincolnia Senior Center. Financial scams prey on all parts of the community, but older citizens are especially vulnerable. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that, nationwide, 11 percent of adults were victims of scams during the one year study period. That’s 25 million people who lost money because of criminal activity.
Every year, I hear horror stories about what my elderly constituents, or their families, lose to scammers. Even those who are mentally alert and well-educated can fall victim to scams. It can happen to anyone, by telephone, email, internet, or simply someone knocking on your door. Protecting from scams begins with education, which is why Silver Shield was launched.
Silver Shield is an all-inclusive campaign aimed at educating various groups in our community – older adults, families of senior citizens, caregivers, and the general public – to provide information and resources to enhance the personal health and security of older adults. Protecting against scams is the first topic in the initiative. At Friday’s launch, senior center staff teamed with police investigators, consumer affairs educators, specialists from Land Development Services who work with licensing contractors, to bring multiple points of service and information to our residents all at once.
Fairfax County is one of the safest communities of its size in the nation. Coupled with physical safety, however, is a need for financial and emotional safety, which often is harder to quantify. When a financial scammer is successful in conning individuals out of their assets, the loss is more than money. It also results in a loss of trust, a loss that might prey upon the mind even more than the financial loss. For more information about the Silver Shield program, log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/olderadultservices/silvershield.htm.
Safety in many ways — personal safety, weather-related emergencies, a family emergency, or an individual challenge — will be the focus of Mason District’s Resilience Summit and Expo on Thursday, October 12, at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. A Senior Safety Summit, tailored for older residents and/or their caregivers, will begin at 2 p.m., with representatives from police, fire, consumer affairs, emergency management, and other county agencies. From 4 until 6 p.m., a Resilience Expo will provide additional information and the opportunity to speak one-on-one with county staff. At 7 p.m., a General Session overview of safety and emergency preparations will begin, followed by a question and answer period with county experts and presenters. Please plan now to attend.
Mason District lost an extraordinary volunteer and community activist last week, with the passing of Emily Ruffing, at age 93. Emily and her husband, Fred, recognized the need for quality child care, especially for low-income working parents, in the Annandale area, and began what now is the Child Development Center of the Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) 50 years ago. Sadly, Emily died just weeks before the planned celebration for ACCA’s anniversary on October 3, but her community spirit and inspiration will live forever.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]