ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh will kick off PROTECT Week on Monday, January 8 at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville at an event to raise awareness about elder financial abuse and tax fraud prevention. The Comptroller will participate in the week-long campaign, which will hold several events focused on how Marylanders can avoid becoming a victim of these crimes (see schedule below).

Guidewell Financial Solutions, a Maryland nonprofit credit counseling agency, is leading the statewide campaign sponsored by Wells Fargo in partnership with the Offices of the Comptroller and Maryland Attorney General and several other agencies.

“Over the last 10 years, my office has detected and blocked more than 80,000 fraudulent tax returns worth over $185 million,” said Comptroller Franchot. “Victims of tax fraud – many of whom are vulnerable, older Marylanders – sometimes deal with the impact of this abuse for years in silence. That’s why education and awareness are key to keeping seniors safe.”

“There are huge risks that older victims of financial exploitation can face in terms of their personal financial health and overall economic well-being,” said President and CEO of Guidewell Financial Solutions Helene Raynaud. “We’re legally obligated to report suspected financial exploitation of older Marylanders. Raising awareness about the prevalence of this issue is imperative to prevention.”

Financial elder abuse is when someone uses an older adult’s property or money improperly or illegally. PROTECT Week is to raise awareness, to help Marylanders recognize the warning signs and to provide tools to intervene early when an older adult is in danger.

The schedule of events is as follows:
Monday, January 8, 10:30 a.m. to Noon
Kickoff news conference at Charlestown Retirement Community Main Auditorium: 215 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228
Comptroller Franchot and Attorney General Frosh will kick off a presentation to safeguard financial well-being and to prevent financial harm and elder financial abuse. Also taking part are Wells Fargo, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers and Robert E. Frey of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
Tuesday, January 9, 10:30 a.m.
Tele-Town Hall with AARP. To participate, register here.
Comptroller Franchot along with AARP Maryland and the AARP Fraud Watch network will take part in a telephone town hall with Guidewell Financial Solutions and Robert E. Frey from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to help Marylanders learn how to spot and avoid scams.
Wednesday, January 10, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Park Senior Center, Multi-Purpose Room: 3950 Ferrara Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20906
The Comptroller’s Office will be part of a presentation on elder financial abuse fraud featuring EverSafe, the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. Speakers also will address policy issues for the first day of the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session.
Thursday, January 11, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Riderwood, Montgomery Station Maryland Room: 3120 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904
Comptroller Franchot will join representatives from the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Crimes Against Seniors Division and the Maryland CASH Campaign to provide tips and highlight resources available to seniors to help protect their identities and prevent financial abuse and loss.
Friday, January 12, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Charlotte Hall Veterans Home: 29449 Charlotte Hall Road, Charlotte Hall, MD 20622
Deputy Comptroller Sharonne Bonardi will take part in a presentation for Maryland’s veteran community on tax assistance and resources to help safeguard financial well being. Also participating are AARP, the Maryland CASH Campaign and Robert E. Frey from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated or is the victim of financial exploitation or fraud is urged to call the Maryland Department of Aging at 1-800-332-6347 or the police.