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fflogoFraud Fighters

More than half of consumer fraud victims in Washington are over 50 years old, according to a study by AARP. Fraud Fighters is a consumer education program designed to educate Washington residents, especially senior citizens, about how to recognize scams, report fraud and protect themselves and others in the their community.

Fraud Fighters began in 2003 as a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office, AARP and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Since then, the Attorney General’s Office and AARP have adapted the program to address new threats to consumers such as identity theft and economic crimes.

Research suggests that seniors are less likely than other consumer age groups to report becoming victims. Sometimes they are too afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone they have lost their money. In some cases, they do not even realize they were victimized. The damage can be as minimal as a few unwanted magazine subscriptions or as extreme as the loss of an entire life's savings.

Research conducted by AARP based on a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice has shown that consumer education can reduce an older person's likelihood of being victimized by more than 50 percent.

Fraud Fighters – the Beginning
Operation Take Charge
Cyber Safety Campaign
Taking Charge in Tough Times
Fraud Fighter Call Center

Fraud Fighters – the Beginning

More than 2,600 seniors participated in Fraud Fighter workshops between 2003 and 2005, sending a strong message to cons that Washington residents are on to them and we take crime very seriously. Each participant left armed with a training kit, a video, and a Fraud Fighter handbook. They also received a gold pin indicating that they have received the training.

These seniors are now Fraud Fighters. As such, they have agreed to share information with at least one friend or family member. Some continue to present information to service clubs and civic organizations – helping spread the Fraud Fighter message even further.

Operation Take Charge

In late 2005, the Attorney General’s Office and AARP launched a new campaign, Operation Take Charge, to address the growing problem of identity theft. Additional partners included the Federal Trade Commission and Washington State Crime Prevention Association.

Trained Fraud Fighters lit up the phone lines as part of a “Reverse Boiler Room,” dialing hundreds of seniors in Washington and Portland, Ore., to warn them of the potential threats of identity theft. "Boiler room" is a term for mass telephone call centers used by fraudulent telemarketers. To guard individual personal information, the Fraud Fighters offered a comprehensive set of resources that helps consumers take charge of their identity.

In conjunction with the phone calls, community outreach events in Shoreline and Vancouver offered area residents an opportunity to safely dispose of outdated personal documents. Commercial shredding trucks were available on-site, allowing consumers to destroy more than 6,000 pounds of paper.

Cyber Safety Campaign

The Attorney General’s Office, AARP, Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission teamed up in 2006 to present a Cyber Safety Campaign, working together to educate the public about online hazards such as phishing scams, viruses and spyware. As part of the campaign, half-day seminars were conducted in Spokane, Bellevue, Kennewick and Vancouver. Experts in online safety explained tips every computer user should know. Participants received a free Cyber Safety handbook, educational DVD and informational brochures.

Taking Charge in Tough Times

With skyrocketing costs on everything from food to utilities, families losing their homes, retirement accounts shrinking and millions of Americans without a job, it’s no wonder that Washingtonians are feeling swamped by the wake of the economic downturn. To make matters worse, crooks and swindlers have emerged with a new crop of scams and schemes designed to take advantage of today’s turbulent economy.

In spring 2009, AARP joined forces with some of the state’s leading consumer advocates and experts to help consumers weather the financial storm. Hundreds of participants attended seminars in the Tri-Cities, Bellevue, Vancouver and Spokane. They heard from experts with AARP, the Attorney General’s Office, Microsoft, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Financial Institutions and the Washington State Crime Prevention Association. KCTS channel 9 recorded the presentation in front of a live audience on June 9, 2009; watch the video here. You can also watch the entire Vancouver workshop, recorded by CVTV.

Fraud Fighter Call Center

A dedicated group of trained volunteers are reaching out to consumers across the nation with the tips, resources and information they need to protect themselves from fraud and abuse. The project is a partnership between the AARP Foundation and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Since opening in 2006, the Call Center has already helped more than 250,000 consumers.

Some of the outgoing calls are made to people appearing on call lists seized during law enforcement raids of fraudulent telemarketing boiler rooms. These so called "sucker lists" are typically sold and resold among multiple con artists looking for their next victim. To keep a step ahead of emerging scams, the Call Center also collaborates with a number of key leaders and community partners including the Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Washington State Crime Prevention Association, the Better Business Bureau, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

If you have questions, or would like the Fraud Fighter Call Center to contact someone you care about, call 1-800-646-2283.

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More Topics on Senior Fraud

Charity Scams | Foreign Lottery | Fraud Fighters | Home Improvement Schemes | Identity Theft | Internet Scams | Investment Scams | Living Trusts | Sweepstakes Scams | Travel Scams

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