Congressman Payne, Essex County Executive DiVincenzo and Irvington Mayor Smith Attend Senior Fraud Program
IRVINGTON – U.S. Congressman Donald M. Payne and Essex County officials today attended a new statewide program presented by the Division of the Consumer Affairs and designed to educate and alert senior citizens to frauds specifically targeting elderly residents.
The “FedUp - Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program” was presented to an audience of Essex County residents at the Irvington Senior Center. The FedUp program was launched last month and today’s presentation was the first in northern New Jersey.
More than 10,000 booklets and 1,000 DVDs will be distributed to senior citizens during similar presentations that will occur statewide.
Among those attending the program were Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Executive; Jaklyn De Vore, Director, Essex County Div. of Senior Services; Freeholders Blonnie R. Watson, Donald M. Payne, Jr. and D. Bilal Beasley; Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith; Mary Beth Dixon, Associate State Director, AARP; and Linda Doherty, President, New Jersey Food Council.
“We’re empowering seniors through this proactive program, so they know how to spot a scam and also how to report attempted frauds to Consumer Affairs investigators and their local police,” said Elizabeth Mackay, Consumer Affairs Deputy Director.
Residents age 60 or older filed approximately 1,400 of the 20,000 consumer complaints received by the Division of Consumer Affairs last year.
The FedUp program is being funded through a $58,000 grant to the Division of Consumer Affairs. The grant comes from a $5 million fund established for consumer education and protection projects, under a multi-state settlement with Sears in 1997.
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 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.