Protecting our seniors goal of Scam Jam & Health Fair


Area seniors were able to meet with and get information from several area organizations at Friday morning’s Scam Jam & Health Fair. / Heather Mann

CULLMAN – Elderly residents can be some of the most vulnerable people in a community. Not only are they at increased risk for many health issues, but many scammers and con artists target older victims who might not be up-to-date on prevalent fraud attempts. The Cullman County Commission on Aging, working with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the North Alabama Regional Council of Governments (NARCOG), aim to help protect the older residents of Cullman County with their annual Scam Jam & Health Fair.

The Commission on Aging has held its annual health fair for more than 10 years, but the Scam Jam has only been around for three years. The combination of the two events means double the benefit, helping protect both the health and personal security of local senior citizens at the same time.

The health fair part of the event provided free screenings to check bone density, blood pressure and BMI, and also provided information to patients and/or caregivers about home health care, assisted living or rehabilitation programs. Lorri Lee, health promotion coordinator for the Commission on Aging, stated that the fair usually sees a lot of people with hypertension, diabetes and chronic fatigue, as well as people taking care of Alzheimer's or dementia patients, so the information is extremely helpful.

The other portion of the event, the Scam Jam, included a fraud prevention panel with speakers who work in law enforcement, business and security. The panel discussed common scams like door-to-door con artists, people who try to get money or personal information through false email, telephone or postal messages, and Medicare fraud from doctors billing patients for treatments or procedures that never happened.

Speakers on the panel included:

-Elizabeth Garcia, Better Business Bureau

-Investigator Trevor Clemmons, Cullman County Sheriff's Office

-Clint Niemeyer, Alabama Securities Commission

-Daniel Friend, Family Security Credit Union

-Chief Kenny Culpepper, Cullman Police Department

-Detective Tony Robinson, United States Postal Inspection Service

The Tribune asked three of the event's organizers for their thoughts and comments about the fair as a whole.

Lorri Lee, Commission on Aging: "It's a great event. I invite everyone to come out and just get to know some of our local vendors and the vendors from the surrounding areas – Decatur, Huntsville, Arab. I also don't think you can learn too much about frauds and how to avoid scams, things like that. I think it's a nice community event to reach out to everyone. The free screenings and stuff like that, you can't beat that either, and the people we have in here are great at what they do."

Cissy Pearson, NARCOG: "It's such a critical thing to provide education to our seniors in particular because they are the most vulnerable in the nation right now for scams, and there are so many new scams that are coming out every single day. That's why it's so critical to keep them informed of what the latest scams are and how to protect themselves, so we're gonna give them the tools today to show they can protect themselves and who they need to report it to. So many times they fail to actually report it, and we need to know what's happening – the law enforcement, the securities commission, the other professionals need to know what's going on so that they can put a stop to it and prevent it from happening to others."

Dusty Baker, Commission on Aging: "It's such a two-way event. You know, we learn from them, and the law enforcement and everybody, they learn from us. We're here to help each other and make the community better and protect our seniors. They shouldn't have to worry about this stuff at their age and at that point in their life, and that's what we're here for: to protect them."

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