COLORADO SPRINGS — Mental health experts in southern Colorado say they’re seeing more people seeking help after falling victim to fraud and scams. News5 finds out why experts think this is happening and what we can do to better support our friends and loved ones who have been targeted by scammers.
Do you know someone who has lost money to a scammer? It happens often, last year the Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.8 million fraud reports and consumers lost $5.8 billion.
But it turns out that scammers are stealing more than just money and sensitive information. Mental health experts tell me they also rob people of their self-esteem, confidence, and for many older people, their sense of independence. That’s why talking about these issues and thinking about how we respond to these crimes is so important.
“Definitely more often,” said Springbok Health’s Mark Yankelow.
Yankelow and his team work to help people in Pueblo and Colorado Springs overcome mental health challenges.
One of the most common problems faced by its customers…
“Definitely more often,” Yankelow said.
The shame of losing money and information to a scammer.
“Now this man is deceived. They’ve lost money, they’ve lost faith, they’ve lost face. Some of them are really struggling right now,” Yankelow said.
He says that in many cases, things only get worse for these fraud victims when they are shamed by people they trust.
“The worst thing is to make them think it’s their fault because they already are,” Yankelow said. Don’t tell them things like, Mom, you should have known better, what did I tell you? They are already a victim and already have self-esteem issues. Don’t make them feel ashamed or embarrassed.”
John Breyo of the National Consumers League says the psychological impact of these experiences delays reporting and fuels the problem.
“These scammers thrive because they know consumers are hesitant to report being victimized,” Breyault said. “You might not be able to save yourself or save the money you spent, but you’ll definitely help protect other people.”
Yankelow says he is most concerned about the impact of fraud on the mental health of seniors and military veterans of all ages.
“If a scammer gets their hands on these types of people and gets something out of them, they’re pretty sure those people aren’t going to report something,” Yankelow said. “It’s a huge compromised population.”
While he sees a growing need for mental health services for fraud victims, Yankelow says he’s encouraged that people are trying to find someone to talk to about what they’ve been through. He says this is how we should deal with this huge problem.
“Make people feel comfortable talking about it and even admitting that it happened. How can we get this right? How can we fix this? This is absolutely necessary,” Yankelow said.
Blackmail is another strategy that scammers will use against their victims, making people feel isolated and telling them that if they talk to someone, things will only get worse. But keep in mind that when talking to a mental health professional, there are privacy policies that allow you to get help and protect your privacy.
Help talking to friends and family about scams and fraud: https://www.koaa.com/money/consumer/how-to-help-seniors-deal-with-frequent-scam-calls-and-fraudster-attacks
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