Most public libraries in the United States attract a large number of senior citizens for a variety of reasons including library programs, daily newspapers, and of course their large selection of books. I have had the pleasure of working at two Florida public libraries that cater to a large population of seniors in both Naples and Boca Raton. While many programs offered for this population are entertainment based (such as movies and crafting) it is also essential to reach these patrons with informational programs. The Federal Trade Commission has recently created a campaign entitled Pass It On that aims to help seniors protect themselves and others from scams. The Institute of Museums and Library Services is encouraging public libraries to create programs on this important topic.
My library system (Palm Beach County Library System) has two programs scheduled for September called Be Scam Smart. Tasha Carter, Director of the Division of Consumer Services under the Florida Department of Financial Services, will be leading an informative workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers. The 90-minute workshop is part of Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) and will cover how to spot a scam, outsmart the scam artists, avoid identity theft, and more. Libraries are a valuable resource for patrons on many topics, and assisting senior citizens with keeping their finances and identity safe, is another opportunity for libraries to step up in our communities.
I encourage you to visit the FTC website and order their free folder with six articles and six bookmarks that you can display at your library. The materials are available in English and Spanish. It is possible to order more as needed. Maybe you do not have the time or resources to conduct a program, but you can link your library website (or blog) to the informational video that is also on their page. If your library has conducted a similar program, or you plan to conduct one, please reply in the comments section below with anything you feel is valuable to report to other library professionals. I believe we can all agree that it is unfortunate that rip-off artists exist, but it would also be unfortunate not to take advantage of these free resources to educate our local citizens.