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Seniors who continue to receive scam calls about medical alert systems and other dubious offers can report them to a new anti-fraud hotline, launched by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging last last year.
Although seniors can still report the calls to the Federal Trade Commission, the Senate’s hotline was established to make it easier for seniors to report fraud, especially for those who many not know which federal or state agency to contact.
Last week, the FTC announced it obtained a temporary restraining order against a Florida company that made mass robocalls claiming to offer free medical alerts. Whistleblower readers report that the calls continue.
The hotline will be staffed by a team of committee investigators, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
“The investigators, who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other senior exploitation issues, will directly examine complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to the proper authorities,” the aging committee said in November.
The hotline number is 1-855-303-9470.
An international sweepstakes scam that has already cost consumers, mostly seniors, $11 million is the Federal Trade Commission's latest target in stopping these kinds of swindles.
On Sept. 16, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Ventura, Calif., resident Liam O. Moran and his companies for sending out personalized letters to millions of consumers claiming they had won more than $2 million in sweepstakes money.
The letter then states the recipients have to send a $20 to $30 fee. The fine print on the back of the letter does tell consumers in "dense, confusing language" that they have not won anything and the fee is to provide consumers with a list of available sweepstakes, according to the FTC.
"The defendants have sent more than 3.7 million letters during the past two years, including nearly 800,000 letters to people in 156 countries in the first half of 2013," the FTC said in a news release Monday. "They have collected more than $11 million from consumers since 2009. The vast majority of the victims of this scam appear to be over 65."
Read the full complaint here.
The Federal Trade Commission filed charges against operators of a telemarketing scheme aimed at defrauding seniors by offering phony prescription drug discount cards last week.
In the complaint, the FTC alleges that seniors across the United States were deceived into turning over their bank account numbers and used that information to take money from their accounts.
The operators, based in the United States and Canada, claimed they would send consumers a prescription drug discount card for a fee. The cards provided were already provided to senior for free by calling a toll-free number, the FTC said Monday in a news release.
The telemarketing scheme is another in a slew of scams targeting seniors. On Sunday, I wrote about scammers who are taking advantage of the confusion swirling around the Affordable Care Act. The majority of the people I spoke to for that story were seniors who had received a call from someone claiming they needed to send a new Medicare card.
The operators who are named in the complaint that are based in the United States include:
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota said consumers across the nation are receiving scam phone calls telling them that because of the Affordable Care Act, they need to provide personal or financial information to receive health coverage or to keep the coverage they currently have.
Star Tribune reporter Jackie Crosby wrote about the agency's warning last week. The BBB of Minnesota told Crosby they didn’t know of any specific scams targeted at Minnesotans.
Some of you have reported to Whistleblower that swindlers posing as Medicare representatives have called seeking personal information, including bank account numbers, that they need before sending out a replacement insurance card.
Whistleblower wants to know if you have received any calls from people who claim they need your personal or financial information for health care coverage. Call reporter Alejandra Matos at 612.673.4028 or send her an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants Attorney General Eric Holder to crack down on robocall swindlers and other criminals engaging in mass-marketing scams, especially those targeting seniors.
In a letter Thursday, Klobuchar asked Holder to look for “ways to improve the coordination of resources to bring more criminals to justice and protect American consumers.”
Klobuchar said in her letter that seniors are especially susceptible to telemarketing scams. She gave the example of a senior in Minnesota who was targeted by a telemarketing scammer to send $47,000 overseas to claim a car she had supposedly won.
In July Klobuchar introduced the Senior Fraud Protection act, a bill that coordinates the federal response to these crimes and establishes a robust complaint tracking system. The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to coordinate with other agencies to monitor the market for fraud schemes.
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