AARP Foundation ElderWatch grew out of a 1999 study published by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar’s Office, Respecting Our Elders: A Statewide Action Plan to Combat Senior Fraud. The study prompted legislative changes that were implemented in the 2000 session of the Colorado General Assembly, and among the report’s recommendations was the establishment of a statewide clearinghouse of information set up as a nonprofit agency, to coordinate efforts in both the public and private sectors.
AARP Foundation ElderWatch provides information to and coordinates efforts by law enforcement agencies, social services and other organizations assisting 50+ Americans – as well as efforts undertaken by older Americans themselves. Similar consumer protection programs are administered by the AARP Foundation in Washington and West Virginia.
The AARP Foundation ElderWatch program engages roughly 180 volunteers each year, who provide information and assistance to their peers, and consists of three main components:
- The AARP Foundation ElderWatch Hotline: a toll-free information and referral service that 50+ consumers, caregivers or professionals can call to report fraud and learn more about scams. Volunteers staff the hotline from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT, Monday–Friday, and the hotline has received more than 20,000 calls since the program’s inception.
- AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Call Center: an outbound calling center that reaches out to older people throughout the country to teach them how to recognize, refuse and report scams.
- AARP Foundation Field Fraud Fighter Program: a series of consumer protection presentations and community events, delivered by volunteers and staff, to help protect 50+ consumers.
Through these efforts, AARP Foundation ElderWatch is uniquely positioned to collect data pertaining to financial exploitation from the front lines. This allows for the creation and dissemination of scam alerts and tips to help proactively educate 50+ consumers about the dangers of financial exploitation.