HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Lyman Community Center in Gulfport was alive with activity Wednesday for the 2014 Senior Fraud Prevention and Wellness Expo.
Some senior fairs only provide healthcare information. According to Janice Merrell, this one was different. She's the director of the Senior Resource Center for Harrison County. She said the main purpose of this event was to help seniors avoid fraud attempts.
Merrell said identity theft and scams are something that many seniors get hit with constantly.
"They focus on seniors because they feel like they're vulnerable," said Merrell.
Several of the community members at the expo had personal experience with fraud attempts.
"A lot of people call on the telephone and ask for information we shouldn't give them," said Anne Stietenroth.
She has received several of these calls. Some of them ask for credit card info, and some claim to lottery winnings. But, she has a strategy when it comes to dealing with these potential scam artists.
"Well, I'm always leery when I hear a voice that I don't recognize. And so I just pause and wait until they say something and then just hang up immediately," said Stietenroth
Margaret Strnad was also at the expo and has recently been receiving calls from Jamaica.
"I just didn't answer it. I didn't answer for a long time. And then I thought I'm going to figure out who it is," said Strnad.
So she answered, but still didn't know what to do. She hoped to find a solution at this expo. That solution was provided by Alva Collins. He deals with fraud prevention with the RSVP organization. Merrell invited Collins to share some expert tips about the topic to the crowd of senior adults.
According to Collins, there are two major steps that you need to take if you're afraid you're getting scammed.
"You say, I'm referring you to the attorney general and hang up," said Collins.
No matter what, Collins said the most important thing is to never assume fraud won't happen to you.
"Not it can, it will," said Collins.
The expo provided more than 700 seniors with free information about fraud protection. There were also 62 vendors on site providing helpful tips and info about other senior services. The event was sponsored by the Harrison County Senior Resource Center and the Southern Area Agency on Aging.