Mike Hilgers

Nebraska Attorney General

Attorney General Hilgers' August Column: Protecting the Good Life for the Golden Years

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office works to protect Nebraskans, especially citizens who are vulnerable. Of particular concern to our office is the protection of our senior citizens.
We are grateful to our senior Nebraskans who have invested their time, energy, and resources into our state. Many have raised children, built families, and committed their time and effort into their communities. They have volunteered at churches and nonprofits, contributed to food banks, and helped the least among us. They have built businesses and created jobs that make Nebraska prosperous.
The threats and vulnerabilities for seniors are real. Sadly, seniors are more at risk for cyber crimes and financial exploitation. Cyber criminals get more sophisticated every year, with a dizzying array of tactics at their disposal. They can spoof numbers, use AI to replicate voices and create advanced phishing schemes with mimicked email addresses, fake bank requests, and calls from those posing as the IRS or other federal and state agencies. The scammers can trick even the most able and discerning among us, posing difficulties for those unfamiliar with these modern-day schemes.
Our office helps fight these attackers. The Attorney General’s Office, primarily through our Consumer Protection Bureau, focuses on four categories—education, outreach, enforcement, and policy.
First, education. Our office has a host of materials to help educate Nebraskans (seniors and non-seniors alike) on our website at ProtectTheGoodLife.Nebraska.gov. These resources help seniors spot and detect scams as well as recover from identity theft. Our valuable free resources include an Identity Theft Consumer Guide and our booklet on Recognizing and Reporting Scams. This booklet includes details regarding tech support scams, imposter scams, moving scams, and more.
In addition, our team has a dedicated set of specialists in our Consumer Affairs Response Team – CART, for short. Our trained teammates help take incoming questions, educate Nebraskans on the issues they are seeing, and provide direction for solutions or referrals. If you have a question or think you might have someone who is trying to defraud you, call CART at 402-471-2682. Last year, our team took 5,000 calls and helped recover nearly $1 million. 
Second, outreach. Our office has an Outreach Coordinator who goes to organizations and citizen groups to connect and build relationships with Nebraskans in communities around the state. Last year, we presented to thousands of Nebraskans, including those at senior centers and assisted living facilities. In addition, this year, we will be in Grand Island at the Nebraska State Fair! I look forward to visiting with Nebraskans in person at our booth.
Third, enforcement. Our team has a number of enforcement tools, from civil lawsuits that can be brought by our Consumer Protection Bureau to criminal prosecutions from the Attorney General’s Criminal Bureau. Our dedicated staff will hold bad actors who harm seniors responsible for their actions.  
Fourth, we can help work with stakeholders to improve our statutory tools. In 2021, when I was Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, we passed LB297. This bill gave additional tools to financial institutions to spot and act upon potential financial exploitation of seniors.
As your Attorney General, protecting seniors will always be a moral obligation and solemn responsibility. By working together to educate seniors and their families, directing them where to go for help, and enforcing laws against those that would break them, we can ensure the Good Life continues throughout the golden years.