Protecting Mainers from scams
To the editor:
On Thursday, Dec. 10, Judy Shaw, Maine Office of Securities Administrator, and David Leach, Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection Examiner, participated in a live AARP Maine-sponsored tele-town hall.
The spotlight was on scams, identity theft and fraud — crimes that result in Americans losing billions of dollars every year. Nine thousand AARP members from across the state joined the tele-town hall and both Ms. Shaw and Mr. Leach answered many of their questions live during the call.
The focus of the discussion, which I moderated, was on common scams and fraud in Maine and how Mainers of all ages can protect themselves from these crimes.
The tele-town hall forum is one way AARP Maine invites its members to be a part of these important discussions and offers an excellent opportunity to have their questions answered by state agencies and community leaders.
During the call, AARP members were able to pose questions of Ms. Shaw and Mr. Leach. A caller from East Millinocket asked a question about Social Security numbers being used as account numbers at their financial institution. Another caller from Woolwich shared a story about receiving a call from a scammer in Jamaica claiming she had won millions in a lottery.
Participants were reminded that placing a freeze on their credit report, now free in the state of Maine thanks to a new law, is the one of the most effective ways to protect oneself from identity theft. For information on placing the freeze, visit www.aarp.org/me or call the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529.
In Maine, AARP staff and volunteers regularly deliver scam awareness presentations and work in collaboration with the Maine Council on Aging, law enforcement, community leaders and other organizations to combat fraud and scams in the state. In 2014, AARP Maine released a survey of Maine registered voters age 50 and older which included statistics concerning residents’ experiences with scams. According to the survey, four out of 10 registered voters in Maine age 50 and older have encountered a fraud or scam or know someone else who has in the past five years.
A more recent Maine survey released on Nov. 24 found that 63 percent of Maine consumers failed a quiz about how to stay safe from common holiday scams, with many respondents regularly engaging in behaviors which put them at risk of being victimized by con artists.
AARP Maine Communications Director