AG Dana Nessel talks identity theft scams, protecting seniors from elder abuse

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel stopped by the FOX 2 studio Friday, talking about programs to protect Michiganders - from elderly patient care in nursing homes to all of us at risk for identity theft.

They're our parents, grandparents - eventually all of us, if we live long enough to grow old - and increasingly, that means living in a nursing home.

"Currently we have over 100,000 Michigan residents that reside in nursing homes," said Nessel.

She says her department wants to keep those people safe - their Sentinel Project is designed to do just that, encouraging people to contact them if there are problems in those facilities.

"They can make a complaint online or they can call us up and tell us what's happening," she said. "What are they seeing in a particular facility, and we will do an unannounced, surprise visit to see what's really happening."

Their team could show up in the middle of the day or night - checking for proper staffing, proper care of patients, wound care, and infections.

"We've done 40 of these in the last year in 18 counties all around the state," Nessel said.

Nessel says most investigations result in more and better training at the facilities - others have resulted in criminal charges. But the goal is to improve facilities and keep vulnerable people safe.

Speaking of which, she's asking Michiganders to contact their state senators to approve a package of elder abuse bills to protect the most vulnerable.

"They really deal with greater protections for guardianships and conservatorships," she said.

Nessel also reminded people of all ages of the risk of identity theft - which is on the rise.

"It's not a matter of if - one day - you will fall victim to identity theft - it's when," she said.

Whether it's online phishing scams or phone calls pretending to be banks, utility companies, even your own relatives - do not click on links - and do not give anyone your personal or financial information.

Also make sure you have sophisticated passwords that you change regularly - and don't send checks.

"They're getting stolen in the mail all the time - this just happened to me just a few weeks ago," she said.

Nessel says with the advances in Artificial Intelligence - there are increased dangers.

"(Just) know that people can call you on spoofed phone numbers that are not real - but they'll look real, and they can sound like anyone that you know," she said. "You can't trust that it is really them, when they're asking for that kind of information."

Nessel says to always hang up and verify.

"You might want to say, 'Hey - this is interesting, but first I'm going to contact the department of attorney general and verify it,'" she said. "Nine times out of 10, you'll hear click."

But if you have fallen victim to identity theft the attorney general's office can help with that as well - go HERE for more information.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel