Consumer Affairs Launches
Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program
HAMILTON TWP. – The Division of Consumer Affairs and local officials today launched a new statewide program designed to educate and alert senior citizens to frauds specifically targeting elderly residents.
The “FedUp - Senior Fraud Education & Protection Program” debuted before an audience at the Hamilton Township Senior Center. More than 10,000 booklets and 1,000 DVDs will be distributed to senior citizens during similar presentations that will occur statewide.
“Con artists who think senior citizens are easy targets are in for a rude awakening,” Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman said. “FedUp is a proactive program that will educate seniors in how to spot a scam and also how to report attempted frauds to Consumer Affairs investigators and the local police.”
Residents ages 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. 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.
“Knowledge is power and today we’re empowering New Jersey’s seniors against these charlatans,” Szuchman said.
Director Szuchman was joined at today’s program by State Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein; Hamilton Mayor John F. Bencivengo; Mary Beth Dixon, Associate State Director, AARP; Kathleen Fitzgerald, R.N., Hamilton Supervisor of Senior and Veterans Services; and Donna Giovannetti, Director of the Mercer County Office of Consumer Affairs.