NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK – ANNOUNCEMENT #5
Attorney General Chiesa Brings Division of Consumer Affairs’ “FedUp” Senior Fraud Prevention Program to Caldwell
NEWARK –Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the State Division of Consumer Affairs today debuted the updated edition of a consumer fraud education program specifically designed for senior citizens, as part of National Consumer Protection Week activities.
Today’s presentation of the “FedUp - Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program” at the Caldwell Community Center marked the first use of a newly revised booklet that highlights current scams targeted at the elderly. The presentation also featured a DVD that showed attendees various fraud schemes and how to respond to them.
“We’ve updated our FedUp program because con artists are constantly scheming of new ways to defraud senior citizens,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “We’re empowering senior citizens to better protect themselves through education and outreach, so they can safeguard their hard-earned assets.”
The FedUp program debuted in September 2008 and has been presented throughout the state.
Consumers ages 60 or older filed approximately 1,600 complaints with the State Division of Consumer Affairs last year, about 13% of all complaints received.
“We filed suit against an investment company this past November, for allegedly defrauding more than 70 investors, most of them retired senior citizens, out of $8.5 million,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “The schemes, whether large or small, all have the same goal – to defraud seniors and enrich the con artist.”
Some of the scams targeted at senior citizens include: advance fee fraud, where a senior citizen is informed that he/she has won a prize but needs to send in money to pay for alleged processing fees and/or local taxes; bogus charities that ask for donations in cash or via checks made out to “cash”; unregistered contractors who show up unannounced and offer a “special deal” because they are allegedly working in the neighborhood and have extra materials to do a job; and rebate or reward checks that covertly enroll the person cashing the check into a subscription or contract.
The Grandparent Scam is one example of a newly popular scheme to defraud seniors. In this scheme, a caller pretends to be the grandchild and claims to be in Canada or another country outside the U.S. The caller typically has the grandparent’s name and the grandchild’s name, obtained from social networking web sites.
The caller claims he/she is in jail or a hospital and has an immediate need for cash, either for bail or medical treatment. The grandparent also is told not to call the grandchild’s parents, as they will become upset or angry.
The sense of urgency compels the grandparent to wire the money, without pausing to think about the scenario that has been presented. Once the money is wired, it is virtually impossible to track and recover, following discovery of the fraud.
“The FedUp program is all about recognizing a potential scam and not becoming a victim,” Calcagni said.
Other topics addressed in the FedUp program include:
- Home improvement projects and repairs
- Charitable Giving
- Telemarketing/Mail Fraud
- ID Theft
To schedule a FedUp presentation, contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6241.
NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. NCPW 2012 runs from March 4 through 10 and additional information is available at www.NCPW.gov.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook, and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events.