Renewed hope after a scam

January 7, 2020

After falling into a scammer’s trap, Sharon and Richard saw their finances spiral out of control. Catholic Social Services (CSS) gave them the helping hand they needed and assisted them in developing a sustainable, independent financial future.

The couple began struggling to meet their bills when 70-year-old Richard had a longer-than-expected recovery from back surgery and was ineligible for disability. Each month, they fell a little further behind, until Richard began looking online for solutions.

Already behind before the scam, Richard and Sharon ended up losing $1,200 to the fake loan offer. They couldn’t pay their rent and found themselves facing eviction. Fortunately, a legal aid counselor helped them to rescind their eviction, but they still didn’t have a home or money for rent.

After a long search for resources in the area, Sharon found CSS’ Supportive Services program. A CSS Supportive Services case manager helped Sharon and Richard find temporary housing and then affordable permanent housing. She also helped them secure a Gift of Kindness from The Columbus Foundation. This one-time gift covered their first month’s rent, electric bill, and car insurance.

With their immediate needs settled, CSS started working with Sharon and Richard to become financially independent and sustainable. The couple met with Kassandra from CSS’s Money Management program to create a plan to get out of debt. Sharon began working part-time at Target and the couple has significantly reduced their debt. They say that Kassandra is “fantastic,” and that “she keeps us on track.”

Through CSS’s holistic approach to assisting seniors who have fallen on hard times, Sharon and Richard now have the confidence that they can move forward. They are trying to better themselves overall, financially and otherwise, and they have a renewed hope that these things are possible.

Unfortunately, Sharon and Richard’s story isn’t unusual. Studies show that at least one in every 18 older Americans falls victim to financial scams each year— and this number doesn’t include the many more who are taken advantage of by family members or trusted caregivers. Older adults who have worked hard all their lives to save for a secure retirement can lose everything to scammers. Older adults living in poverty may be more susceptible to scams because of their desperation, and even the poorest seniors may be targeted in insurance fraud schemes or for non-liquid assets like their homes. Victims are often too embarrassed to admit they were scammed. In some cases, they may not realize they were taken advantage of until it’s too late to track the scammers. And, of course, it doesn’t take a scam artist to cause someone to fall on hard times. Even the most prepared seniors can face financial catastrophe after a long illness or other unforeseen circumstance.

CSS is committed to lending a helping hand to seniors like Sharon and Richard who have fallen on hard times. We want to help them develop skills and connect with the resources they need to become financially independent because we believe all people deserve to receive the trustworthy support they need to meet their potential—at every stage of life.

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