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Wolf Administration Expands Elder Financial Exploitation Prevention Efforts

03/04/2021

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) is partnering with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) to provide voluntary training for convenience and grocery store employees to help identify and prevent seniors from being victims of gift card scams.

The training is part of an ongoing initiative by the department to partner with professionals and professional organizations to recognize and report elder financial exploitation and will focus on assorted scams that involve the purchase of gift cards. The training will help store employees spot potential victims of scams and what they can do to help stop the transactions.

“Elder financial exploitation is a scourge on our commonwealth that has not yielded with the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Tina Kotsalos, Director of the Investor Education and Consumer Outreach Office. “We are thrilled to work with our partners to reduce exploitation through gift card scams and help inform consumers about how to protect their assets.”

"The PA Food Merchants Association is pleased to collaborate with DoBS on this and future training to help combat a continuing problem in Pennsylvania," said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. "We value the opportunity to educate our members about the risks and scams that their customers are facing."

Gift card scams are a common tactic used by scammers and has grown in frequency over the past several years. Scammers will often instruct victims to make payment for a fictitious debt or fee via payment by gift card because the funds are difficult to trace once the card number and pin are provided to a third party.

Anyone who has been instructed to make payment via gift card should immediately cease contact with the caller and alert local law enforcement using a non-emergency number or report the activity to the Pennsylvania State Police by emailing tips@pa.gov.

The department uses its innovative, research-based programs to train medical doctors, lawyers, social workers, senior service providers, and other professionals who have contact with older Pennsylvanians to recognize and report financial abuse.

Learn more about the free programs and presentations available or contact us to request a program tailored to your specific needs.

Visit the commonwealth's Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia Lucy - 717.214.6036, DoBSComm@PA.gov

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