World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Help in Your Community

By Crystal Baldwin

As we prepare for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day this Saturday, please read and share: “Finding Help,” a guidon help options for Vermonters experiencing elder abuse, exploitation and neglect. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Building Strong Support for Elders - National Center on Elder Abuse - My Community, your community - free of elder abuse
National Center on Elder Abuse – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

When considering care for our loved ones, there is a lot to think about . Who should help manage their money? Should someone live with them, and who? Can we afford to hire an in-home caregiver? Should we seek out assisted living care, or think about an adult day option? Once everything is finally sorted out, we can exhale. But should we? As our parents checked in on our wellbeing as children, once our elders are set and settled, we must continue to check in on them, too, with great care and concern for their wellbeing. 

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we must be vigilant and aware of the risk factors and signs of elder abuse. We must serve as supportive connections to older adults in our communities to prevent their social isolation—one of the main elder abuse risk factors ( As someone who has cared for a vulnerable elder, I know firsthand that it can be difficult to know where to turn for help, advice, and guidance.   

Finding Help: Abuse, Exploitation & Neglect in Later Life - link to guide
Finding Help – A resource guide produced by the VT Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living

Last fall, the Vermont Attorney General’s Elder Protection Initiative and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living launched the Finding Help: Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect in Later Life help guide, a resource for Vermont’s most vulnerable and those who care for them. The guide walks through how to recognize abuse and exploitation, help options outside of government, as well as how to report elder abuse or exploitation to government for response. This resource outlines free services provided by an array of organizations and state agencies, including: 

  • Elder abuse hotlines and helplines 
  • Case managers and social workers 
  • Domestic & sexual violence organizations 
  • Legal services; and 
  • Other community-based organizations and professionals 

You can help prevent elder abuse and exploitation. I encourage you to share and save a copy of this guide and keep it among your most referenced resources. Also, consider printing out the following abbreviated resource guide and share it with the elders in your life.  It includes some of the primary referral resource hotlines and can be kept handy close to the phone for easy reference.   

Resources for VTer's 60+
Vermont 2-1-1
VT Area Agencies on Aging 1-800-642-5119
VT Adult Protective Svcs 1-800-564-1612
VT Office of the Public Guardian 1-800-642-3100
UVMMC Case Mgmt and Social Work Team 1-802-847-3553
SASH 1-802-863-2224
Blueprint for Health - contact a Primary Care Physician. National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-372-8311
Resources for Vermonters 60+. Print and share.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day:

Social Media Scams Hope to Elicit Funds from Grieving Families

Scammers are targeting grieving families, posting links to fake funeral live streams on Facebook and asking for payment to access the service. Scammers may further make fake social media pages of loved ones to post the fake funeral livestream link.

The livestream option for funeral services is typically free to guests. If you are asked to provide payment, disengage and contact the organizer directly, such as the funeral home or the person who arranged the funeral services.

The array of scams that can occur on social media is virtually limitless. There are:

  • Opportunities to grow your wealth through investment schemes,
  • The chance to earn money through low-risk involvement, such being paid to have your portrait drawn,
  • Advertisements that lead to purchasing items and services that do not exist,
  • The development of false relationships

The scammers will stop at nothing.

Here are some things you can do to avoid fraud online:

  • Limit your social media connections to people you actually know and have met in person.
  • Know that accounts can be hacked so the “friend” contacting you could be a scammer.
  • Turn on restrictive privacy settings that allow only those close contacts access to your pages and posts.
  • Upon receiving an appealing offer take steps to verify and engage a trusted contact to scrutinize the offer.

If you have paid in response to one of these scams, contact your financial institution right away and alert about the fraud. Learn more recovery steps on our website: 

Please help stop scams by sharing this information with someone you know.

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is your Vermont resource for consumer help and scam prevention information. Contact CAP at 1-800-649-2424 or

Vermont Origins Guidance for Businesses

Vermont law specifies which products may be labeled and marketed with terms such as “locally grown” and “made in Vermont.” This law is important to protect the integrity and name recognition of the Vermont brand. If your business is intending to use the Vermont name when labeling or branding products, be sure to check out this helpful guidance and review the following rules.

Consult the Vermont Origin Rule—FAQs (Revised 7/7/06)  for more guidance.

Refer to CP Rule 117 and CP Rule 120 before using the Vermont origin label.

If you have any questions about Vermont Origins, reach out to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets with questions.

Buying Eclipse Day Eyewear

As we get ready for Eclipse Day, before you gaze at the sun, take a moment to double-check that you have the proper eyewear. Not all “eclipse glasses” claiming to meet specific safety standards and ISO compliance requirements will be safe for viewing the sun.

Before you look at the sun, look at your eyewear. Not all "eclipse glasses" will be safe. Check the AAS's supplier list:

Counterfeits will be sold, particularly on well-known online sale platforms. For this reason, the American Astronomical Society (linked from NASA) has compiled a list of “suppliers of safe solar filters & viewers.” On their website, they relayed that in 2017, they had advised for people to simply look for compliance markers, like that ISO 12312-2 international safety standard was met, however found “…the marketplace was flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that were labeled as ISO-compliant when in fact they had not been properly tested and shown to be safe” (

Before buying online, checkout the supplier information against the AAS’s approved list. If you opted to purchase your glasses from a local vendor or obtained a coveted free pair from a library, school or employer who may have placed an online bulk order, verify the supplier information printed on the product or ask the organization about the company that produced the glasses.

May you have clear skies and safe viewing on Eclipse Day!

Attorney General Clark Marks Consumer Protection Week with Top Ten Consumer Complaints of 2023

Office Saves and Recovers More Than $1.89 million for Vermont Consumers

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Charity Clark announced the top 10 consumer complaints received by her office’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) in 2023. Claiming the list’s top spots are consumer complaints involving vehicles, home improvement, and retail, which collectively represent 43 percent of all complaints filed in 2023. Attorney General Clark also today released CAP’s 2023 Annual Report in which the program details its record-high recoveries and savings for Vermont consumers, totaling more than $1.89 million.

CAP Annual Recoveries: $195K in 2018, $709K in 2019, $443K in 2020, $242K in 2021, $455K in 2022, $1.9M in 2023.

“Vermonters should know that they have rights as consumers. If you have a complaint to make, the Consumer Assistance Program is here to help,” said Attorney General Clark. “Every day, CAP helps consumers and businesses reach mutually beneficial resolutions without having to go to court. I am both proud of and inspired by their service.”

CAP is a 42-year-old program based at the University of Vermont in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office. The program’s primary goal is to address consumer problems in Vermont, which it does through its mediation service, outreach, and education. Staff, with the help of service-learning students, manage informal inquiries, provide referrals to resources, and engage in mediation of consumer complaints. In 2023, the program responded to 8,200 contacts, including reports of scams, and provided extensive mediation services on 1,251 consumer complaints.

While the top 10 consumer complaints of 2023 remained largely the same as those of 2022, there was a noticeable difference in fuel disputes reported last year. Fuel complaints slid down to the number 10 spot from number four in 2022. In 2023, CAP responded to 71 inquiries from fuel providers and consumers about the application of the “Propane Rule” – a consumer protection rule enforced by the Attorney General’s Office. The reduction in written complaints can be attributed to efficiencies implemented by CAP in 2023, which allowed staff to resolve complaints involving fuel more quickly and in real time thus removing the need for letter mediation. This improvement reduced the number of submitted complaints overall to 58 compared to 2022’s 120. A total of $34,813 was recovered in this area, resolving complaints about propane refund and tank removal delays, and nine consumers were able to have their heating services restored due to CAP’s intervention.

VT's Top 10 Consumer Complaints of 2023 - Motorized Vehicles 254, Home Improvement 173, Retail 120, Health/Medical 101, Home Furnishings 95, Entertainment 81, Banking/Credit/Finance 68, Services 65, Housing and Real Estate 60, Fuel 55.

This year, like last, the top complaints reported to CAP were auto and home improvement complaints. CAP has made great strides in addressing the issue of home improvement by hiring a home improvement specialist in July of 2023. In the first six months on the job, the home improvement specialist recovered or saved Vermont homeowners more than $400,000.

More businesses are utilizing CAP’s mediation service as well. In Vermont, businesses can be considered consumers too under the Consumer Protection Act. Complaints filed by businesses increased from 53 in 2022 to 77 in 2023 with a 45 percent increase occurring between 2022 and 2023.

Vermonters experiencing consumer problems should contact the Consumer Assistance Program for help. The program is a useful resource for resolution and complaints filed help to identify problem trends in consumer areas. The CAP data is reviewed by the Vermont Legislature when considering consumer protection laws, for enforcement by the Attorney General’s Office, and for consumer education and outreach. Reach CAP by calling 1-800-649-2424 or online at

A chart and table containing the Top 10 Complaints of 2023 is available here.

Learn about the Top 10 Consumer Complaints and CAP’s Annual Report on Across the Fence:

Across the Fence – 03/04/2024 Consumer Protection Week with VT AG Charity Clark