May 27, 2020 Financial Planning

Money Smart for Older Adults

By Karren Pope-Onwukwe

In October 2018 I attended the National Aging and Law Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. On Thursday, as I walked around the conference my eyes were drawn to pads that gave great easy to read information on frauds and scams, all of the pads had about 50 tear-off sheets and some were in Spanish. During one of the seminars  I learned that I could access the Federal Trade Commission’s website and order the pads in bulk for FREE!  

On Friday morning at the “Lightning Round Plenary”, Lois Greisman from the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (“FDIC”) spoke and explained that in 2013 the FDIC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had created a fraud curriculum Money Smart for Older Adults (MSOA) that they continue to update. The MSOA includes the following topics:

  • Common types of elder fraud and scams,
  • Identity theft,
  • Scams that target homeowners,
  • Scams that target veterans’ benefits,
  • Planning for unexpected life events, and
  • How to be financially prepared for a disaster.

The curriculum includes an instructor guide, resource guide and Powerpoint presentation. This triggered my memory of an email that I had received in September from Jeffery Myers, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland seeking volunteer lawyers to work with the Maryland State Bar Association’s Subcommittee on Consumer Credit. The subcommittee had edited the MSOA power point presentation to be specific for Maryland and as looking for attorneys willing to give presentations.

As fate would have it, I received a request from the president of a local civic association asking if I would be able to speak at their November meeting to discuss financial scams that target seniors. On the evening of the presentation I arrived with my box of free handouts and my professional Powerpoint presentation. By the end of the meeting I was elated. The Powerpoint encourages an interactive presentation and my audience was totally engaged. I was able to share valuable current information to anxious folks trying not to become victims.

Maryland’s program was recognized by the FDIC in the Spring 2019, Money Smart News Success Stories, according to the article the subcommittee has trained about 20 attorneys. This is a wonderful way to provide public service to your local community and you get the added bonus of believing that you may have thwarted some one’s efforts to illegally use an older person’s funds, property or assets.


Karren Pope-Onwukwe is a prominent elder law and disability rights attorney, bar leader and community activist; her practice is centered around helping clients plan for aging, disability, and wealth transfer.