North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services
Victims Assistance Program
In 1999 an AARP survey found that older consumers are disproportionately vulnerable to telemarketing fraud. Fifty–six percent of those identified by the survey as targets of telemarketing fraud were age fifty or older. Unable to replace assets lost to these fraud artists, the financial and psychological impact of telemarketing fraud on senior victims can be devastating.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services, and the North Carolina Department of Justice have worked together for many years to fight consumer fraud targeting seniors in North Carolina. In 1998, the Division of Aging and Adult Services joined forces with AARP and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to establish the NC Senior Consumer Fraud Task Force. Federal, state and local law enforcement, aging advocates, AARP, the aging network, state and local Better Business Bureaus, US postal inspectors and crime prevention agencies formed an alliance to fight consumer fraud.
In recognition of the need for a coordinated and integrated statewide approach toward assisting North Carolina seniors who have been victims of fraud and scams, Division of Aging and Adult Services, and Office of the Attorney General has developed a Victims Assistance Program. This initiative provides intense training to volunteers to help them become effective mentors and "buddies" to victims of fraud. The goals of this initiative are to reduce the ongoing incidence of fraud and to establish a protocol for early detection of signs and symptoms of fraud in the vulnerable aging population.
The Volunteer Assistance Program utilizes the skills and availability of trained senior volunteers to assist the special detectives in the State Attorney Generalís Office to provide follow-up with community seniors who have been victims of crime to assess their level of functioning, explore a safety plan, identify community and social supports and make referrals to professionals in areas where appropriate and ultimately to reduce the incidence of repeat scams.
How the Volunteer Assistance Program Works?
The Division of Aging and Adult Services recruits volunteers and works to match those volunteers with victims of fraud.
The Attorney Generalís Office provides access to criminal records checks for the volunteers and through a confidential agreement arrange for victimís names to be released to the Division of Aging and Adult Services.
The Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) and the Attorney General's Office (AG) provides training for volunteers that includes: DAAS and AGís vision and mission as it relates to the Victims Assistance Program, history of telemarketing fraud, philosophy of volunteering , volunteer policies such as confidentiality and setting boundaries, assessments of the victim to include; safety, level of functioning, mental health status, risk factors, i.e. suicidal behavior, abuse neglect, need for protective services, and substance abuse.
The Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Attorney General's Office provides the volunteer with training that will include reading a police incident report, how to notify the Crime Prevention or Crisis unit, reporting to the DAAS or AG's office, protocol for reporting signs and symptoms of a crisis, emergency reporting and logging activities.
If interested in becoming a volunteer or in learning more about the opportunity please call Donna White, RN Aging and Health Specialist, NC Division of Aging and Adult Services at 919-733-0440 or email Donna.White@dhhs.nc.gov.
Last updated May 24, 2010
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