December 11- Security for seniors topic of recent free Stetson Law and Florida AARP forum

Contact Frank Klim
Executive Director of Communications
(727) 562-5889

Gulfport, Fla. – Experts from around the state warned senior citizens on personal and financial security at a consumer forum at Stetson University College of Law Wednesday, Dec. 10.

A joint effort of Stetson and the AARP of Florida, the forum allowed seniors to learn and ask questions about a variety of issues facing them including advance health care directives, protection against identity theft and how to avoid scams and con-artists.

“Our best way to fight consumer fraud is to know about it,” said Nick Cox, professor and head of Stetson Law’s Elder Consumer Protection Program.

Clearwater senior Robert Weigel said personal protection is a constant concern for him.

“I don’t know how we can stop being scammed except to be as careful as we can be,” Weigel said.

In addition to longtime fraud issues, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation and seniors are the top targets. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Officer Telly Sands put it simply, “ID theft is just out of control.”

Sands recommended close attention and research into any organization before seniors give out their personal or financial information.

Along with dealing with financial issues, the forum also let seniors know about options available to establish their wishes for health care, such as living wills and health care surrogates, should the unexpected happen.

Because of the attention given to the Terri Schiavo case, there has been a greater effort for community education in this area, said Rebecca Morgan, Stetson’s Faculty Chair in Elder Law.

“Talk with your spouse, loved ones, significant others and be as specific as you can about what you want and why you want it because that increases the chances that what you want will get done,” Morgan said.

Representatives from the following organizations also spoke: the Attorney General’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the Gulf Coast Legal Services and the Pinellas County Consumer Protection Agency.

The AARP is putting on a series of forums throughout the state to inform communities on consumer issues.

The forum was part of a continuing effort by Stetson’s Consumer Protection Education Program to educate seniors on how to spot fraud and how to avoid becoming a target for criminals.