(Public News Service) It may seem like the crooks are winning in the battles to prevent fraud and identity theft - but in Washington, maybe not for long.
The state Attorney General's office and AARP Washington are teaming up to spend the next year warning people about scams and recruiting those who run across them to share information. At today's "Scam Jam" at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Doug Shadel, director of AARP Washington, is among the experts talking about the trends they're seeing and how to recognize and prevent being scammed.
"We have, for a long time, known that there will never be enough law enforcement people or social service agencies, really, to protect everyone from this crime, which is growing," Shadel said. "So, we're enlisting the support of the citizens themselves, to protect each other."
Today's Scam Jam is a full house, but other seminars are in the works for Seattle as well as Kennewick and Spokane. Shadel said this first event is the start of a yearlong, statewide effort to create a Fraud Watch Network. People who are interested can call the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center at 800-646-2283.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said some older Washingtonians still are falling for the claim that a caller is their grandchild who's stuck overseas without money - or they meet someone online, think they're striking up a romance and are asked to wire cash. He said grown children may need to have a tough talk with a vulnerable parent.
"That conversation can be done in a way that is sensitive to the situation and explains these scams do take unusual courses of action by using technology," he said. "And just to never send a check, never send credit card information, never wire money until you've absolutely made sure it's a legitimate business, or a legitimate person calling you up."
An AARP survey found more than 80 percent of people who fell for lottery or investment fraud schemes are age 55 or older.