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Seniors Get Tips on Scams, Medicare and Disasters

CORTLANDT---Approximately 100 local senior citizens received helpful advice and information on a variety of topics at a forum sponsored by state Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D/Ossining) Thursday morning at Cortlandt Town Hall.

Jim Cronk, an active senior in the Cortlandt area who is also a member of a Westchester County senior citizen legislative committee, said seniors are always interested in financial matters.

"They're hitting the seniors all the time," Cronk said. "Seniors do what they can afford. If they take pills they'll cut them in half to save money. If they have pets they'll feed them before themselves."

Gary Brown, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Westchester Regional Office, offered warnings about identity theft and "goodwill" scams where thieves prey on vulnerable seniors.

"No matter how careful you are these days you can't entirely protect yourself from identity theft," Brown said. "A lot of identity theft still occurs when thieves get a copy of a piece of paper with personal information."

"Goodwill" scams involve e-mails or text messages sent to seniors from scam artists who pretend to be relatives in dire need of financial assistance.

"We've seen seniors ripped off for $3,000 and $4,000 each," Brown said.

Andrea Grimaldi-Grafer, chief operations officer for American Red Cross in Westchester, provided information on how seniors should "Be Red Cross Ready" in the case of a weather-related disaster or other emergency, while Ilana Raskind, senior client services associate with the Medicare Rights Center, talked about some of the changes in Medicare coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act last year.

Seniors were also treated to food and a medley of oldies but goodies from the 1920s and 1930s from Putnam Valley jazz singer Michelle LeBlanc and Carmel guitarist Steve LaMattina.

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