Grandmas hold a special place in our hearts.

They tell us all the things that happened “back in my day” and bake the best cookies. What’s not to love?

So the fact that scams take $36.5 billion from American seniors every year really gets my knickers in a knot.

Thankfully, the Department of Justice is taking action against these scammers.

On Feb. 22, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several law enforcement agencies announced charges against over 250 defendants who are accused of scamming more than 1 million Americans, most of whom are seniors.

The DOJ said in a news release that the victims in these cases lost more than half a billion dollars to scams involving mass marketing, telemarketing, investment fraud, identity theft and theft by guardians.

“A number of cases involved transnational criminal organizations that defrauded hundreds of thousands of elderly victims, while others involved a single relative or fiduciary who took advantage of an individual victim,” the news release said.

The DOJ has partnered with Senior Corps to educate seniors and prevent further victimization, but there are steps you can take today to protect yourself and your family from fraud.

  1. Add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry.
  2. Don’t provide information in a phone call you didn’t initiate.
  3. Educate seniors on what spam emails look like.
  4. Ask for verifiable information from callers, including business license and address information.

If you or someone you know has experienced elder fraud, report it to the Federal Trade Commission and file a police report. We may not be able to control the number of scammers out there, but we can stay informed and aware.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives tips about saving money and paying off debt on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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