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MN Fraud-Fighters Work to Keep Pace with Con Artists

A scam involving new Medicare cards is the latest trick being used by some con artists to convince older people to share identifying information. (Pixabay)
A scam involving new Medicare cards is the latest trick being used by some con artists to convince older people to share identifying information. (Pixabay)
July 13, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Consumer groups in Minnesota continue their efforts to protect older adults from fraud and identity theft. At a "Scam Jam" event today in Cambridge, AARP Minnesota and the Better Business Bureau teamed up to educate seniors, family members and caregivers about the most common scams and how to avoid them.

Jay Haapala, associate state director of community engagement with AARP Minnesota, says previous Scam Jams have been quite popular, as people over age 50 show greater interest in learning about identity theft and scams.

"People are fascinated by the way these con artists are operating, kind of like watching a crime drama on TV,” says Haapala. “But also, we're all very worried about making sure we protect our finances. So many people have worked their whole life to scrape together a little bit of savings, and these con artists are coming after it."

For those who couldn't attend today's event, both organizations feature resources and scam alerts to keep people up-to-date. The information is online at 'AARP.org/fraud' and 'BBB.org/scamtracker.'

Because older adults are perceived to have financial "nest eggs," Dan Hendrickson, communications manager of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota, explains they're a highly targeted demographic for fraud. Many con artists will spend time developing relationships and trust with an older person, especially those who are isolated or lonely.

"It is kind of the last of the trusting generation,” says Hendrickson. “They grew up in an age where people could be taken at their word and things could be taken at face value. And unfortunately, that's not the world we live in anymore, and these scammers are both persistent and dedicated."

Besides financial abuse within families, Scam Jam will focus on identify theft, cyber security and current fraud trends. Haapala says a new scheme involves scammers who call and say they need to verify information for the new Medicare cards that are coming out.

"So of course, they're asking for people's Social Security numbers and dates of birth, and other personal information,” says Haapala. “Even in some cases, scammers are calling saying some money is owed before a person can receive their new Medicare card. But it's all a scam."

He explains the new Medicare cards will be arriving in the mail soon, and for recipients, no payment or information verification is needed.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MN