A scam that’s been making rounds across the country has made its way to McKean County.
A Foster Township resident tells WESB an automated phone call told her that her Social Security number has been linked to illegal activity and if she didn’t call a certain number (240-389-9235) to resolve the problem, her assets would be frozen.
She did call the number to find out what kind of information they were trying to get from her. A person who identified himself as “Officer Alex” asked for her Social Security number. When she said, “Excuse me?” he hung up. She called Foster Township police.
Just yesterday, state attorney general Josh Shapiro encouraged people to sign up for a new text alert system regarding scams. You can also call his office if you believe you have been the victim of a scam.
The text alerts – which will be sent at least twice a month – will offer tips for consumers to avoid becoming a victim of a scam, warn about new scams or update subscribers on consumer protection issues. Consumers can sign up by visiting https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/consumer-alerts/ and opt out via text after they receive a text alert. There is no fee to sign up. Mobile carrier rates may apply.
“Protecting consumers and combatting scams is a top priority of my office,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference with senior citizens at AARP headquarters in Harrisburg. “It’s important for Pennsylvanians to know what schemes are out there so they can avoid getting scammed. Our new text alert system provides real-time updates and practical tips to empower Pennsylvanians to protect themselves from these schemes.”
The Attorney General shared that seniors are more likely to be targeted by scammers because criminals think seniors are easier to trick, have more assets, are generally more trusting of others and are less likely to report the crime, sometimes due to embarrassment over being duped. Pennsylvania is home to more than 12.8 million residents. Of these, approximately 2.9 million are adults age 60 and older.
“Whether it’s over the phone, through the mail, online or at your front door, scam artists are always looking for new ways to steal your money,” said Mary Bach, Chair of the AARP Pennsylvania Consumer Issues Task Force. “At AARP, we believe that if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam, and the Office of Attorney General’s new text alert program is a valuable new resource to help individuals of all ages avoid becoming victims of fraud and identity theft.”
This year, the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has warned Pennsylvanians of fraudulent IRS tax scams, online romance scams, mortgage modification scams, online employment scams, among other fraudulent schemes. In 2017, the Bureau of Consumer Protection handled 21,942 total complaints and saved $3,032,770 for Pennsylvanians through monies returned to consumers, remittance, and savings through mediation – including $1,126,102 for seniors. The top complaints included Do-Not-Call List violations, motor vehicle issues and home improvement contractor concerns.
In addition to signing up for text alerts, Pennsylvanians who believe they have been victims of a scam should file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 800-441-2555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you believe you’ve been scammed, call us or email us,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Sign up for our new Text Alert System. It’ll help protect you from frauds and scam artists and keep your hard-earned money with you – where it belongs. My office and Consumer Protection team is here to help you,”