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At State Fair Senior Day, a Call to “Hang Up on Fraud”

9/3/2015 5:09:49 PM

SAINT PAUL – Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman joined seniors at the State Fair today to urge Minnesotans to protect themselves against phone scams by “hanging up on fraud.” Lt. Governor Smith also presented Governor Dayton’s proclamation declaring “Fraud Awareness and Prevention Day” in Minnesota. 

Lt. Governor Smith and Commissioner Rothman also met with members of the AARP Minnesota Fraud Fighters, who are trained volunteers who help educate their fellow seniors about scams and fraud. 

“Prevention is the best defense against fraud,” said Lt. Governor Smith. “And the best way to prevent fraud is to avoid getting drawn into a scam to begin with, whether it comes your way on the phone, online or one your front doorstep. We are working with AARP and the Better a Business Bureau to give Minnesotans common sense tips for avoiding troublemakers to begin with.” 

Fraud costs older Americans an estimated $2.9 billion each year, and one out of five Americans age 65 and over has been a victim. Seniors are frequent targets of telemarketing and other phone scams. 

“The ordinary telephone is the weapon of choice for those who try to steal from seniors,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Strangers will call with a variety of false stories to persuade seniors to either send money or turn over personal financial information that can be used for identity theft. When you get a call like that, the best thing you can do is hang up the phone.” 

As part of its mission to protect Minnesota consumers, the Commerce Department has made a priority of fighting financial abuse and fraud targeted at seniors. The Department works closely with groups like AARP Minnesota and the Better Business Bureau – as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. 

Lt. Governor Smith and Commissioner Rothman offered tips to help seniors identify potential fraud calls. They also distributed cards that Minnesotans can keep by their phones with tips to help protect themselves. 

Common Examples of Phone Fraud 

  • “I’m calling from Microsoft and it appears you have a virus…” 
  • “You’ve won a foreign lottery and you just need to send money to claim your winnings…” 
  • “This investment is low risk and high return.” 
  • “This is your grandson and I’m in jail and need bail money.” 
  • “You owe money and face serious consequences.” 

What to Do When You Get a Fraud Call 

End the Call – Don’t be a “courtesy victim.” When it comes to protecting yourself, there is no such thing as being rude. Just end the conversation and hang up the phone. 

Phone a Friend or Family Member – If you are confused or concerned by a phone call, contact a trusted friend or family member for advice. Don’t let a caller rush you into making a decision. 

Report the Fraud – Report the fraud so others don’t become victims. Contact the Minnesota Commerce Department by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 (in metro area) or 800-657-3602 (outside Twin Cities metro area). 

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