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Idahoans to Get Tips on Avoiding Fraud at 'Scam Jams'

Medicare is issuing new cards and fraud experts say scammers see this as an opportunity to steal people's identity. (
Medicare is issuing new cards and fraud experts say scammers see this as an opportunity to steal people's identity. (
May 11, 2018

POCATELLO, Idaho – How can Idahoans avoid scams? They can find out at two free events from the Idaho Scam Jam Alliance next week.

The alliance is inviting folks to Pocatello on Monday and Idaho Falls on Tuesday for tips on protecting their good credit and their identities.

Dennis Rockwood is a volunteer with AARP Idaho and specializes in preventing fraud. He says anyone, no matter their age, can become a victim. Scams over the phone are common and Rockwood has a few easy steps for avoiding them.

"I have a very short way of explaining how they can protect themselves,” says Rockwood. “It comes down to hang up, do not engage, and verify."

Idaho residents reported more than 1,300 cases of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission just last year. The Pocatello Scam Jam starts at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Clarion Inn. The Tuesday Idaho Falls event also starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Shilo Inn.

Representatives from the FTC, state Attorney General's office, Better Business Bureau, and AARP Idaho will be at these events.

Rockwood says seniors face the greatest risk of being scammed. They're often retired and more likely to be at home when scammers call. They've built up the most wealth, and research shows they have a strong trust in authority figures.

Rockwood says thieves could take advantage of this last point as the government begins mailing out new Medicare cards. He describes a likely scenario – scammers pretending to be from the government will ask people to verify their Social Security number so they can be sent a new card.

"Coming from Medicare, an organization that has authority – and it does – will really get the attention of the senior, says Rockwood. “And they're more likely to give their Social Security number – which, in fact, Medicare doesn't have the resources, the time or the energy to do all that."

Folks can check out the AARP Fraud Watch Network online for more tips on how to avoid scams.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID