June 12, 2015
Contact: Jane Margesson
AARP Maine Communications Director
229-5628 or email@example.com
AARP Maine Hosts “Scam Jam” to Fight Maine’s Top Crime - Identity Theft - and Other Scams
Maine Attorney General Addresses Audience of 300
AUGUSTA: AARP Maine held the state’s first “Scam Jam” yesterday, an event designed to raise awareness about common scams and fraud in Maine with speeches and workshops conducted by state agencies leading the fight against these crimes. 300 Maine residents, members of law enforcement, state agency representatives and community leaders were in attendance.
Keynote speaker, the Honorable Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, said “The first step in fighting consumer fraud is prevention. An informed consumer is a secure consumer. I thank AARP for their work in educating their members and all older Mainers about what to look for and how they can protect their nest egg from scammers.”
Speaking next, US Postal Inspector Michael Desrosiers focused on lottery scams and mail fraud. He told the audience, “All scams are designed for a single purpose -- to separate you from your money. It is vital that consumers know and trust the people to whom they are sending money because if it’s fraud, they will never see their money again.”
Every year, millions of Americans lose billions of dollars to scams and fraud. As is the case in many states, identity theft tops of the list of crimes in Maine. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were more than 500 reported cases of identity theft in the state in 2013. Legislation designed to safeguard a person’s credit report through the placement of a security freeze will be enacted on October 1 st thanks to an override of Governor Paul LePage’s veto just last week. Once enacted, the current fees to place or remove a security freeze on credit reports will be eliminated. Because a security freeze safeguards a person’s credit report, it is one of the most effective ways to protect consumers from identity theft. The bill was introduced by AARP Maine and sponsored by Senator Rod Whittemore.
Three workshops were held during the Scam Jam. Will Lund, Superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, led Imposter Scams: How to Spot the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Lund asserted the importance of the Scam Jam event: “The AARP Maine Scam Jam is a valuable opportunity for participants to learn how to recognize scams, prevent identity theft and assert their rights under Maine's consumer protection laws."
David Leach, Principal Consumer Credit Examiner, also with the Bureau and emcee of the Scam Jam, conducted the Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud workshop. Lindsay Laxon of the Maine Office of Securities led the workshop called Emotional Investing: How to Recognize the Signs of a Bad Deal.
During lunch, Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) conducted a live broadcast of their call-in radio program Maine Calling featuring panelists Judith Shaw, Administrator for the Maine Office of Securities, David Leach, and Jane Margesson, AARP Maine Communications Director. Following the broadcast, Ms. Shaw said “We are very excited to be a part of Maine’s first Scam Jam! Events like this are a great way for consumers to learn from experts and each other about how to combat fraud and scams. Attendees learn about common scams we are seeing in our state, but also why scam artists are so successful and how they use our emotions to get at our money. An educated consumer is the best weapon we have against scam artists, so this event will hopefully be the first of many.”
AARP’s history of safeguarding American’s financial security began more than 50 years ago and fighting identity theft and fraud is part of that core mission. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network (FWN), a national initiative, arms Americans with the tools they need to spot and avoid fraud and scams so they can protect themselves and their families. Throughout the day, the Scam Jam audience was encouraged to sign up for FWN’s action alerts to stay up to date on the latest scams. Anyone, of any age, can access FWN resources at no cost.
In Maine, AARP staff and volunteers regularly deliver scam awareness presentations and work in collaboration with the Maine Council on Aging, law enforcement, and 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 ten registered voters in Maine age 50 and older have encountered a fraud or scam (25%) or know someone else who has (16%) in the past five years.
“Identity theft, investment fraud and scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money every year,” said Margesson. “Through events like our Scam Jam, we can raise awareness about these crimes and work together to empower Mainers and their families as fraud fighters.”
AARP Maine’s work to prevent fraud and identity theft will continue throughout 2015. Free shredding events are already scheduled at several locations throughout the state. “Securely disposing of sensitive documents is a good way to keep personal information out of the hands of identity thieves,” said Margesson.
Bangor – June 23 rd at Sam’s Club, 47 Haskell Road from 10AM – 2PM
Lewiston – September 12 th at Walmart, 100 Mt. Auburn Avenue from 10AM – 2PM
Damariscotta – October 17 th at Great Salt Bay School, 559 Main Street, Damariscotta from 9AM – 1PM
Farmington – November, TBD
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.