Elderly groups lobby against fraud

Tuesday, February 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Elderly Oklahomans are spending the opening days of the 48th Legislature lobbying for more heat to be put on fraudulent solicitation, which often targets them.

The Advocacy Partnership for Aging Oklahomans and several other groups are asking for an investigation of scams involving charities, investment opportunities and home repairs that frequently target elderly Oklahomans.

The effort has the support of the Oklahoma Silver-Haired Legislature, a nonpartisan body of 22 senators and 44 representatives that has become a major advisory and advocacy group for elderly care.

John Turneus, 72, is a member of the Silver-Haired Legislature and said in a new conference Monday that senior citizens should never give to any solicitor their bank account, credit card numbers or any other personal information.

Fraudulent sales calls can come from anywhere -- even from different countries.

Jane Wheeler, the director of consumer protection in the state attorney general's office, cited fraudulent lottery solicitations from Germany and Australia as well as false promises of large prizes from Canada.

Oklahoma has 600,000 residents age 60 and older and 62,000 who are 85 and older.

Wheeler said simple procedures can discourage unwanted or dishonest telemarketers, including changing daily routines, phone numbers or screening phone calls.

Also supporting efforts to cut down fraud committed against older people are the state Alliance on Aging, Senior Advocates, American Association of Retired People and the Oklahoma Council on Aging.

The groups have set out 14 legislative goals, including the creation of a public guardianship program to assist incapacitated elderly Oklahomans without friends or relatives.

The group also wants to improve access to health care in both rural and urban areas by providing increased public transportation and emergency services.