Archive for the ‘Concerns of Older Consumers’ Category

Consumers Impacted by Scams Utilizing Western Union May Be Eligible for Restitution Payments

Deadline April 3, 2017

PRESS RELEASE
03/02/2017 09:18 AM EST

Image linked to Western Union Scam Fighting Advice

 

AUGUSTA – Attorney General Janet Mills requests all Mainers who were scammed out of money and asked to utilize Western Union as a payment method to contact her office as they may be eligible for restitution payments. Under a recent settlement with the federal government consumers may be eligible for some restitution if the payments were sent between 1/1/2004 and 1/19/17.

In January, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement it made with Western Union that will require them to return $586 million dollars through a claims settlement process to consumers. Going forward, Western Union must go one step further by creating a real and strong anti-fraud program. Western Union agreed to this settlement after ignoring for years the more than 550,000 complaints it received about money transfers made for fraudulent lottery and prizes, family emergency calls – also known as the grandparent scam, advance fee loan payments, online dating scams, the more recent IRS scam, among others.

Attorney General Mills said “I ask all Mainers who have been scammed out of money and were asked to use Western Union to make these fraud-induced payments to contact my office so that we can connect them with the federal agencies managing this claims process. I realize some may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed, please take this opportunity to be reimbursed for the money you have lost.”

Under the settlement, Western Union will return $586 million dollars through a process to be determined at a later date. The company will have to train and monitor its agents so that people are protected. The company won’t be allowed to transmit a money transfer that it knows – or should know – is a fraud. It has to block money transfers to anyone who has a fraud report, make it easier for people to report fraud, give clear warnings to people who are sending money, and refund a fraud-related money transfer if the company didn’t comply with its own anti-fraud procedures. Additionally, consistent with the telemarketing sales rule, Western Union must not process a money transfer that it knows or should know is payment for a telemarketing transaction. If you ever wire money, also keep in mind that it’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask you to pay with a money transfer. Scammers love using money transfer services because once you send the money, it’s gone forever. So, if a telemarketer asks you to wire money, already you know they’re a crook.

Consumers who made payments for a scam between 1/1/2004 and 1/19/2017 may be eligible for reimbursement. Please contact the Consumer Protection Division at the Attorney General’s Office if you were scammed during this time. You will need to provide your basic contact information, approximate dates of the transaction(s), amounts of the transaction(s) and any relevant transaction identification numbers, if available. Your information will then be provided to our federal partners administering the claims process.

For this case, we prefer receiving information by email – consumer.mediation@maine.gov – but we can also be reached at (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

The deadline for consumers to submit this information to the Attorney General’s Office is Monday, April 3, 2017.

FCC Plan To Let Phone Companies Block More Annoying Robocalls Moves Forward

The Consumerist (03/23/17) details FCC proposal to protect consumers from robocalls.

Click image to read the article

What’s in the proposal?

• Do Not Originate: Phone number owners — like the IRS — can put their numbers on a “do not originate” list, and calls spoofing a number on the list can be blocked.
• Non-existent numbers: Carriers will also be allowed to block calls coming from incomplete or invalid phone numbers (i.e. ones that don’t and can’t exist).
• How to deal with international calls: A huge number of spam and scam robocalls initiate overseas. The FCC is seeking input on the best way to address those calls going forward.

Might this be the end of phone spoofing?

From The Consumerist:

In just a few short years, a proliferation of cheap tech and better broadband speeds around the globe have taken robocalls from an old-school inconvenience of landlines to an all-out digital scourge. In their remarks at today’s open meeting, FCC commissioners cited studies finding that American consumers get hit with an average of 2.2 to 2.4 billion illegal robocalls per month. Run the math, and that works out to an average of at least 7 illegal robocalls per month to every single American.

And scam robocalls proliferate because they work: Vulnerable consumers, particularly the elderly, get taken in to the tune of roughly $350 million per year. According to one study published late last year, commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in her remarks, a whopping 13% of all American adults have been victim to some kind of phone scam. And of those, half — so basically 7% of the U.S. population — were taken for between $100 and $10,000.

“Illegal robocalls are not just a dinner-table annoyance,” Clyburn said, when she explained the economic impact. “This calls for a multi-pronged, high-powered approach” in which the FCC, industry, and consumer-empowering tools can all work together.

Senior Scam Prevention and Aging Committee Fraud Book

The book is available on line or anyone can call the Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470) to request a free hard copy.

Access online copy by clicking image

 

Senator Collins’ office has also sent copies to senior centers and community centers across the state.

Scammers even impersonate kidnappers – FTC

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March 10, 2017
by Alesha Hernandez
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Imposters will pretend to be anyone to get you to send them money. Recently, reports of the virtual child kidnapping imposter scam have resurfaced. The scam begins with a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped a child in your family. You may even hear sounds of a child in distress in the background. The scammer demands money immediately, often wanting money sent through a wire transfer service or by prepaid card.  The scammer may even insist that you keep the call a secret and not alert the police.

These calls are fake and law enforcement organizations, like the FBI, are aware of this type of scam.

If you get a call like this, resist the urge to send money immediately, no matter how dramatic the story.  These scammers are good at pressuring you to send money before you have time to think.  How do they know your information? Scammers will search the internet and social media sites to get personal information.

It’s natural to want to check on your child’s safety, even if your head tells you the call is fake. That’s OK. Contact your child or their school directly. Then you can report this fraud at ftc.gov/complaint.

Down East Credit Union issues warning and assurance to its members

From Down East Credit Union website 

Important Message for Credit Union Members

Fraudulent VISA credit and debit transactions surfacing in the New York area.

Mon, Feb 27th, 2017

Baileyville ME, February 27, 2017:  We recently learned of fraudulent activity in the New York area.  We are investigating the situation and are taking precautionary measurements to ensure the protection of our member accounts.  Please monitor your VISA debit and credit transactions for unusual activity.

If you notice an unauthorized transaction, immediately call 1-800-472-3272 to block your card. You can access your account through our online banking website at http://www.downeastcu.com or by using our mobile banking site.  Please call us at 1-800-427-1223 or by calling your local branch number for additional information.

Down East Credit Union has NOT been breached.  We have the most current and robust technologies and safeguards protecting our most valuable assets – our member’s information.  Internal credit union information is SECURE.  This situation is related to an outside skimming device; which location has NOT yet been determined.  We are working with local, state and federal law agencies to identify the source of origin.

Please rest assured, your Down East Credit Union accounts are FULLY INSURED and you are WELL PROTECTED with your membership.  Down East Credit Union members have NEVER lost a dollar due to fraud.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us
Please see our branch locations directory for contact information.

Relatives and caregivers need to be aware of targeting practices

Bangor Daily News columnist Julia Bayly’s recent column alerts family members and others to attempts to solicit funds from vulnerable seniors and others.

Legitimate solicitations for funds can be just as dangerous to seniors as scams

How having adult kids or aging parents move in affects insurance coverage

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted Oct. 03, 2016, at 9:43 a.m.

A growing number of households in the U.S. are home to more than one generation of a family.

There are several reasons for this trend, which accounts for roughly 4.3 million families, or roughly 5.6 percent of all households.

Leading the list is likely the financial crash of 2008-2009, which prompted many young adults to head for the home where they grew up. Also, more grandparents are assuming the role of primary caregivers for children.

Ethnic factors prompt some families to welcome multiple generations under one roof. A couple may find it easier to care for an aging parent in their home rather than at the parent’s residence.

Insurance experts say it’s worth a look at your policies if family members move in or return home. Look first at personal property coverage. Relatives bring things with them. Because there’s often a cap on contents coverage, your policy may not insure everything.

The solution might be to buy a rider to cover the additional items. However, if the returning grandparents bring an art collection or other valuables, the insurer may want an appraisal. Also, there could be a lower policy cap on such items even if you increase your total coverage.

ConsumerAffairs.com recently advised consumers who will be welcoming aging family members into their homes to ask several questions:

— Are your payments current on health, auto and life insurance?

— Are you covered by Medicare?

— Should we look into long-term care insurance?

Dealing with insurance questions up front can help families avoid a financial crunch later on. That’s true when adult children move back home. They should be asked questions as well:

— How will health insurance be covered?

— If we combine auto policies, will driving records affect premiums?

— Will expensive electronics or other items increase homeowners insurance premiums?

Maine law, 24-A MRSA § 2742-B, requires individual and group health insurance policies to continue coverage for a dependent child up to age 25 if the child is dependent upon the policyholder and the child has no dependents of his or her own. If other “extended” family members move in, determine who is covered by what means.

The website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners includes a model contract that families can use when their living situations change. You can find it at InsureUonline.org and search “welcome contract.”

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

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