Friday, April 14, 2017

Protecting Mainers from fraud and scams by Rep. Mark Bryant

Too often, we hear about Maine’s older adults, some of our most vulnerable citizens, being taken advantage of. Scams and defrauding schemes target Maine seniors, sometimes causing them to lose their entire life-savings.

Nationally, older adults lose an estimated $2.9 billion per year to financial abuse, according to MetLife Mature Market Institute’s 2011 report. Maine’s Office of Aging and Disabilities Services reported that more than 14,000 older Mainers were victims of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation in 2012. 

We, in the Legislature, recognize that this is a serious issue. I’m proud that we work in a bipartisan manner to ensure we protect Maine seniors.  

In the 127th Legislature, we passed a law to help Maine’s older adults protect themselves. We funded Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging’s Money Minders program that offers personal financial management assistance to older adults. 

Money Minders is staffed by volunteers who are matched with adults over the age of 55 who need financial assistance. The volunteers help older adults avoid over-drafting their bank accounts and financial fraud and scams that target older adults. 

This critical program helps hundreds of Maine seniors. However, there is still much more to do.
This year, we will vote on
a bill to prevent financial exploitation of older Mainers by clarifying their intent when opening a joint financial account. 

The measure would require each owner of a joint financial account to answer in writing whether they intend to leave the account to the surviving party in the event of his or her death.

I am deeply troubled by the thought that any Mainer could be taken advantage of. That is why I am pleased to be hosting a forum with Maine Attorney Janet Mills where she will discuss fraud, scams and how to avoid them. The Speak Out program will be held Thursday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the Windham Town Office in the council chambers. The event is aired live on Windham’s public access channel, WCCG TV-7, so you may call in at: 892-0546. If you miss the event, it will be rerun daily. 

Maine’s seniors are not the only ones targeted by scam artists and this forum is not just for older adults. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 30 million Americans are victims of financial fraud and an estimated 40 to 50 billion dollars is lost to fraud annually.

Scammers use clever schemes to defraud millions of people each year. They use phone calls, email and the internet to trick victims into giving them money or personal information.

On the Office of the Attorney General’s website, there is a list of tips to avoid being defrauded. There is also a list of common scams that criminals will try to use to steal your identity. You can find that information and more at:

If you are a victim of fraud, please report it to the attorney general. You may fill out their online form at: or call: 207-626-8800.

As always, please feel free to send me a letter at: 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at: 892-6591 or email anytime at: I hope to see you April 27 for my forum with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.

Rep. Mark Bryant is serving his sixth non-consecutive term in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the Committee on State and Local Government and the Committee on Transportation.

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