How to Fight Against Consumer Scams—and Stop Blaming the Victims

September 19, 2022
Hosted by Ron Roel

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Guest Information

Episode Description

Every year, millions of consumers are affected by fraud and scams—especially elderly Americans. These incidents have been growing at an alarming rate and have assumed troublingly creative tactics: a variety of identity theft schemes; phone scams like callers claiming they’re with the IRS, Social Security or company customer service departments; lottery or sweepstakes scams; or callers pretending to be family members in financial distress. The Federal Trade Commission estimates the cost of financial fraud reached nearly $6 billion last year, and the real cost is likely much higher because many victims are too ashamed to come forward and report the incidents. But you don’t have to be a victim. In today’s episode, Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs with AARP, talks about her mission to educate older adults on the risks that fraud represents to their financial security—and what they can do about it. A nationally recognized expert in consumer fraud issues, Kathy will describe how she and her team have expanded AARP’s leadership in this arena, including the creation of a new victim support program and a multi-year campaign to end the use of gift cards in fraud. Besides offering some strategies for people to protect themselves, she’ll talk about the formation of a national effort to fundamentally transform how our society addresses consumer fraud. In fact, a major study by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which teamed up with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation, found that our “victim-blaming” culture exacerbates the deep sense of shame and low self-esteem felt by financial fraud victims, shifting the focus away from perpetrators and allowing these horrific crimes to flourish. But these practices can shift, Kathy argues, and she’ll explain how AARP and the FINRA Foundation are seeking to engage institutions—financial, law enforcement, legislative and judicial— the media, and the general public to drive long-term change in how victims of financial fraud are treated.

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Ron Roel

I’m a veteran journalist who spent a wide-ranging career covering business, politics and social issues, the last two decades focusing on the blend of diverse life skills I call successful aging.

I have written extensively on aging topics, spoken at conferences, radio and TV shows, and launched several entrepreneurial ventures, discovering along the way that the path to aging well also requires an unexpected entrepreneurial vision. I spent 20 years as a writer and editor at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, helping to found Act 2, a weekly section for 50-plus readers. I created, a website offering practical advice and inspirational essays for people ages 40 and above. I have been a volunteer and consultant to AARP Long Island, writing articles, advocating for seniors, and developing action plans for the AARP Age-Friendly Communities initiative.

I am active in programs and organizations that support seniors, such as the National Aging In Place Council and the Senior Umbrella Network. I have developed a special expertise in family caregiving, as one of four brothers who took care of their mother for almost 25 years. I regularly collaborate with many professionals who provide services and support for older Americans, and I am completing a book for caregivers on Long Island, “The Caregiving Navigator/How to Plan, What to do, and Where to Turn When Caring for you Aging Loved Ones. And Yourself,” scheduled for publication in early 2021.

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Episode Directory

October 2022

September 2022

  • 9/26/2022: As You Age, Here’s How to Extend Your Home’s “Best Before Date” Listen Now
  • 9/19/2022: How to Fight Against Consumer Scams—and Stop Blaming the Victims Listen Now
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August 2022

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