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‘Friends Against Fraud’ program teaching elderly how to avoid scams

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- According to data from the Guilford County Sheriff's Office and Greensboro Police Department, it's the number one issue for folks aged 65 and older: fraud and exploitation. A major partnership in Guilford County hopes to address this problem, meeting with the elderly in the community to give them the tools they need to avoid becoming a victim.

"I would want someone to let my mother, or my grandmother or someone like that know," Greensboro native Hyarline Shuford said.

Shuford says she's always on the lookout for scams and cares enough to post scam warnings from the Attorney General's website to her church's bulletin board.

"The majority, about 95-96 percent of our church is elderly," she said. "It's important for them because they're the prime target."

That's where Friends Against Fraud comes in. Director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center Catherine Johnson says the more they can have a conversation about fraud with the elderly, the more they can reduce and prevent it. She says it also chips away at the stigma.

"It's amazing the amount of people that raise their hand, take that responsibility and say 'Yes that happened to me,'" Johnson said.

Empowering the elderly through meetings, the program teachings folks how to become "PALS" by demonstrating how to Protect, Assess, Listen and Support those who may be victims.

"It's simple strategies like every home needs a shredder," Johnson said.

According to Johnson, some common scams in Guilford County include a phone call from someone claiming to be your grandchild asking for money.

"Internet and computer based scams is another," she said. "And a third that's very common in our community is scams like the tree cutting service or some type of service space scam, door to door."

Johnson says with tax season coming up, IRS scams are also going to come in more frequently.

If you want to learn more about Friends Against Fraud, there's another meeting on Friday, Oct. 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church at 1000 West Friendly Ave. in Greensboro.