RENTON – More than 140 South King County residents today joined a growing force of Washington seniors determined to fight back against consumer fraud. The Attorney General’s Office and AARP trained the group to become volunteer Fraud Fighters, armed with knowledge and tools to spot and stop scams targeted at older adults.
Attorney General Rob McKenna told seniors who attended a workshop at the Renton Senior Center that they are the state’s best defense against swindlers. Outreach programs like Fraud Fighters have been proven to lower a person’s willingness to respond to fraud pitches by as much as 50 percent.
“We intend to send a strong message to cons that their scams won’t work in Washington,” McKenna said.
McKenna was joined by state Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, Reps. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, and Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, AARP Director Doug Shadel, and others from AARP and the Attorney General’s Office. Arizona’s Attorney General’s Office sent staff to learn more about Washington’s program.
Consumers lose billions of dollars each year because of fraud. AARP research shows one in four Washington adults feel they have been victimized. More than half of victims are people over 50.
“My office is committed to helping stop these crimes before they happen by educating citizens and helping local prosecutors bring cons to justice,” McKenna said.
Nearly 2,600 seniors have attended Fraud Fighter training since the Attorney General’s Office and AARP founded the program. Those who complete the training are urged to educate others about fraud prevention.
“We’re building an army of informed seniors who refuse to allow themselves, their friends, families, and neighbors to become victims,” said AARP Director Doug Shadel.
Participants learn about some of the most popular scams including identity theft, sweepstakes fraud, investment scams, Internet fraud, living trust cons, foreign lotteries, home repair cheats and bogus charities. Experts explain the psychological principles and persuasive tactics that underlie selling techniques.
“The bottom line with many of these scams is: if the offer you’re getting over the phone, on your doorstep, or in your mailbox sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” McKenna said.
For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, (206) 464-6432, KristinA1@atg.wa.gov