State Division of Consumer Affairs Presents
Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program in Newark
NEWARK - The Division of Consumer Affairs today joined with Newark officials and presented a fraud awareness and prevention program specifically designed for senior citizens.
The “FedUp - Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program” was presented to senior citizens at the Ironbound Senior Center. FedUp is a statewide program created by the Division of Consumer Affairs that debuted in 2008 and includes a formal presentation plus DVDs and booklets that are distributed to attendees.
“FedUp is a proactive program that educates seniors in how to spot scams and how to avoid becoming victims of fraud,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “We’re empowering seniors to better protect themselves and their savings, as con artists continuously try new schemes in attempts to defraud the elderly.”
Calcagni noted that the Division of Consumer Affairs this February issued a public alert about a scam targeting grandparents. In this scam, the con artist calls the grandparent and claims he/she is the grandchild and either is stranded or under arrest and in need of cash immediately. In most reported cases, the caller claims to be in Canada on a visit and that the money must be wired. The wired funds end up in an account controlled by the con artist.
The con artist usually has the name of the grandchild, which was obtained from online blogs, networking web sites or genealogy web sites.
“The sense of urgency, and the familiarity of the caller knowing names, spurs some grandparents into immediate action,” Calcagni noted. “The best advice is to pause and check if the grandchild really is away from home and if the child’s parents know of any emergency situation.”
Other scams targeted at senior citizens and discussed at today’s program 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.
Topics addressed in the FedUp program include:
- Home improvement projects and repairs
- Charitable Giving
- Telemarketing/Mail Fraud
- Investment Fraud
- ID Theft
Tear-out tip sheets on these topics are included in the brochures that were given to senior citizens today. The tip sheets can be used for quick reference on how to spot a potential scam.
The FedUp program is funded through a $58,000 grant, without the use of taxpayer money. The grant comes from a $5 million fund established for consumer education and protection projects, under a multi-state settlement with Sears in 1997.
Attending today’s program with Acting Director Calcagni were Margarita Muniz, Deputy Mayor of Newark, and City Council Members Augusto Amador, Mildred C. Crump and Luis A. Quintana.
The State Division of Consumer Affairs can be contacted through its web site, www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within N.J.) or 973-504-6200.