Archive for the ‘Concerns of Older Consumers’ Category

Consumers impacted by scams utilizing Western Union may now seek compensation from $586M fund

Attorney General Mills encourages fraud victims to file claims

PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
November 13, 2017
CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

AUGUSTA – Mainers who were deceived into sending payments to scammers using Western Union’s wire transfer service between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 may now apply for compensation from a $586 million fund administered by the Department of Justice’s Victim Asset Recovery Program. This fund is related to a multi-state settlement with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and Western Union that was first announced in January.

Mainers who reported to the Maine Office of the Attorney General that they had been the victim of a scam using Western Union will receive a claim form in the mail in the coming weeks, which will contain instructions explaining how to file a claim for compensation. If you do not receive a claim form in the mail but believe you may have an eligible claim, visit http://www.westernunionremission.com or call 1-844-319-2124.

“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 file for reimbursement from this fund,” said Attorney General Mills. “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 get some of your money back. If you ever wire money, 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.”

In order to receive restitution under the settlement claims forms must be mailed back to the settlement administrator by February 12, 2018. Attorney General Mills encourages consumers to reach out to the Consumer Protection Division if they have questions or concerns at consumer.mediation@maine.gov , (207) 626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131.

#

Original story

Advertisements

SCAM ALERT: Senate Aging Committee Warns to Beware of Scams Targeting Veterans

Need Help? Call the Senate Aging Committee’s Toll Free Fraud Hotline:  1-855-303-9470

Washington, D.C.—Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor the sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans and their families. Yet, there are scam artists who target these men and women as potential victims and who try to capitalize on patriotism to rob all Americans of their hard-earned money.

As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), have made fighting fraud against older Americans a top priority.

This Veterans Day, they are warning the public of various scams that specifically target veterans.  Some of these schemes include benefit scams, imposter scams, or charity scams that use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting donors into giving money to fraudsters.

“Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank those who served in our nation’s armed forces” said Senator Collins. “Despite our deep gratitude for their service and sacrifice, the unfortunate reality is there are criminals and scammers who will always exploit others to make a quick buck. We must keep working to ensure the public is aware of these scams, which can either target our nation’s heroes or prey on those who want to support them.”

“On Veterans Day, and every day, it is important that we honor the extraordinary sacrifice of those who put their life on the line to serve, defend and protect our country and fellow citizens,” Senator Casey said. “It is our duty to ensure that our veterans, their families and caregivers do not become victims to scam artists who seek to defraud them of their hard-earned benefits. I will continue working to stop unscrupulous people who try to profit in the name of patriotism.”

Charity scams that target people’s sense of giving and patriotism are particularly prevalent around Veterans Day.  Criminals posing as charitable organizations and claiming to benefit veterans and their families will often use the word “veteran” to try and trick unsuspecting Americans.

Donors who want to give money to a legitimate veteran’s organization this Veterans Day should make sure to look into the charity and make a direct payment rather than making a payment through a wire transfer or gift cards.

Benefit scams, or pension advances, will try to charge veterans who are seeking to claim benefits they rightfully earned through the Veterans Administration (VA).  Advisers, who are approved by the VA to help veterans file a pension or other claims, are never allowed to charge for their services.  In addition, imposter scams involve someone claiming to be from the VA seeking personal information.  If you are contacted by someone, either by phone or email, claiming to represent the VA and requesting payment for services or wanting to confirm your personal information, disregard the solicitation and contact the VA directly for assistance.

Other scams can involve phony sales or rentals on the Internet offering veterans or military discounts.  Always be suspicious of anyone requesting upfront payments via wire transfer or gift cards.

Americans who suspect fraud can contact experienced investigators at the Senate Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline.

If you have questions or believe you are the victim of a scam, call 1-855-303-9470.

###

Mainers Encouraged to Document and Report Wind Storm 2017 Damage

PRESS RELEASE

November 3, 2017
Maine Emergency Management Agency

 

AUGUSTA, MAINE — As the state-wide response and recovery effort continues in Maine following a devastating wind storm that caused power outages to nearly a half million electricity customers as well as tree damage, flooding and property damage, many are asking how to report those damages.

Individuals

  • Report damages to 2-1-1 Maine. This information will be used to assess damages and will be provided to the individual’s town to enable them to learn who has storm-related damages. Callers will be asked a series of questions. By reporting this damage, callers are not applying for assistance, and should continue to pursue the steps and resources below.
  • Callers should keep their documentation of the damage and cost of items damaged or spoiled as well as receipts for any repairs in a safe place (receipts, photos and other documents).
  • File a claim with homeowner’s or auto insurance.
  • Those who cannot afford to fix damage from the storm should contact their municipal General Assistance Officer for assistance that may be available under 22 M.R.S.A. � 430.
  • Check with local food pantries if you lost food.
  • Community Action Programs may be able to provide some assistance to those who meet certain income guidelines.
  • Current SNAP benefit recipients may be able to obtain a voucher to replace lost food. Contact the Office of Family Independence at 855-797-4357.
  • Individuals can also contact 2-1-1 Maine for referrals for assistance.

Farmers

  • Farmers who experience losses and need assistance should contact USDA Farm Service Agency at 207-990-9140.

Businesses

  • Businesses should report losses to their local Economic Development Corporation.

For additional preparedness, shelter, resource and safety information, please visit MainePrepares.com, or visit MEMA on Facebook or Twitter.

Recent Federal Trade Commission Consumer Warnings

US Food & Drug offers 4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults

Explore these topics for your health and that of your family and friends

  1. Take Medicine as Prescribed—with Input from Your Health Care Provider
  2. Keep a Medication List
  3. Be Aware of Potential Drug Interactions and Side Effects
  4. Review Medications with Your Health Care Provider

Whether you’re settling into your sixties or heading into your ninth decade, be careful when taking prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations, and supplements. And if you’re caring for older loved ones, help them stay safe, too.

Why the special concern? The older you get, the more likely you are to use additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug effects, including interactions. And, as you age, physical changes can affect the way medicines are handled by your body, leading to potential complications. For instance, your liver and kidneys may not work as well, which affects how a drug breaks down and leaves your body.

“There is no question that physiology changes as we age. Many chronic medical conditions don’t even appear until our later years,” explains RADM (Ret.) Sandra L. Kweder, M.D., F.A.C.P., a medical officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “It’s not that people are falling to pieces; some changes are just part of the normal aging process.”

In Highlighting Elder Abuse Awareness Day, State Officials Urge Mainers to Report Suspected Cases of Financial Exploitation

PRESS RELEASE
June 13, 2017
Contact:  Judith Shaw
Administrator Maine Office of Securities
1-877-624-8551
TTY:  Maine Relay 711

June 15th Observance Draws Attention to under-reported ‘Crime of the 21st Century’, and the Need for People to Report Concerns about Abuse of Seniors

AUGUSTA Officials at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) are focusing attention on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day–recognized each June 15th throughout the United States and in other countries, and often referred to as the ‘crime of the 21st century,’ because of its increasing prevalence and devastating impacts.

“The abuse of seniors is among the most under-reported crimes, and its impact can have devastating consequences for its victims,” DPFR Commissioner Anne Head said.  “Unfortunately, the perpetrator is often a relative or caregiver, making it more difficult for the senior to come forward.  Each of us has a responsibility to report concerns about potential abuse.”

Commissioner Head noted that financial abuse is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its U.S. victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year.

The Commissioner highlighted the Department’s five agencies, all of which are dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse.  She pointed out the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529 or at www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Publications”.  She also highlighted the many resources available through the Bureau of Financial Institution’s online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions).

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who serves on the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the frequency of investment fraud and the importance of reporting suspected cases.  “Of special concern, is investment fraud of seniors,” Administrator Shaw said.  “Victims can lose their entire life-savings, with little opportunity to recover financial stability.”  For investment-related questions or concerns, the Office of Securities within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation can be reached at 1-877-624-8551 and at www.investors.maine.gov.

Signs that an older adult may be vulnerable to possible abuse or exploitation may include:

  • Social isolation and/or recent loss of a spouse or partner
  • Recent decline in health or in the ability for self-care
  • Lack of familiarity with financial accounts
  • Dependence on another to provide everyday care or essential services
  • Willingness to listen to telemarketing calls or respond to solicitations from unverified charities or businesses

Red flags of possible victimization include:

  • Senior has injuries that are not adequately explained
  • Change in appearance or poor hygiene
  • Senior is missing checks, account statements or documentation regarding finances
  • Running out of money at the end of the month
  • Senior appears fearful or depressed
  • Senior is accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective or dominating

Partial List of State Agencies and Organizations in Maine providing information, services and education on elder abuse, including financial exploitation: 

Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services:

www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads

1-800-262-2232 or 207-287-9200

Adult Protective Services:

www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging/aps/

Hotline: 1-800-624-8404

Legal Services for the Elderly:

www.mainelse.org

1-800-750-5353 

Maine Area Agencies on Aging:

List of regional agencies with full contact information:

www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm

Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation:

(Five Agencies Offering a Wide Range of Assistance to Seniors and Caregivers)

www.maine.gov/pfr

Office of Securities:  1-877-624-8551

(Investment Questions or Concerns)

www.investors.maine.gov

Bureau of Financial Institutions:  1-800-965-5235

(Banking Questions or Concerns)

www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions

Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection:  1-800-332-8529

(Credit, Foreclosure, General Financial Scam Concerns)

www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit

Bureau of Insurance:  1-800-300-5000

(Insurance-related Questions or Concerns)

www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance

Office of Professional and Occupational Licensing: 207-624-8603

(Questions or Concerns Related to Licensed Professionals)

www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing

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.

%d bloggers like this: