The following is a press release from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office submitted to SOURCE media
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, February 23, held her office’s first “Savvy Senior Consumer Day,” a virtual summit for hundreds of seniors and service providers from across the state on how elderly residents can protect themselves from scams and identity theft, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
The summit, organized by AG Healey’s Community Engagement Division, included in-depth presentations on common scams targeting vulnerable seniors – including those involving computer repair, sweepstakes, the IRS, debt collection, and grandparent scams – and resources the AG’s Office has to help those who may have fallen victim to financial fraud and identity theft.
“Our seniors, who are isolated and more vulnerable during this pandemic, have become a prime target for scammers looking to profit from their good intentions and trust,” AG Healey said. “These scams are not new but are on the rise and can harm our elderly residents financially and emotionally. We want seniors and their loved ones to know that our office is here to help protect them.”
According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, in 2020 alone, Massachusetts residents reported losing more than $40 million to scammers, with an average loss of $275. Nationally, consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019, with the majority of losses due to imposter scams.
For more on this guidance, including tips to avoid home improvement scams and door-to-door salespeople with high pressure sales tactics, visit AG Healey’s savvy senior guide online here.
In response to the first phase of COVID-19 vaccine, the AG’s Office provided guidance to residents about potential scams and misinformation intended to exploit the crisis. The guidance specifically warns residents to be aware of unsolicited emails that purport to have a link to register for the COVID-19 vaccine and to watch for scam phone calls falsely claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control.
Throughout the pandemic, the AG’s Community Engagement Division has been holding virtual presentations for communities across the state to ensure residents are aware of their rights and protections under the law. The Division works specifically to engage with residents and organizations and make them aware of the services the AG’s Office provides.
The AG’s Office also has a number of multilingual hotlines and complaint forms to connect residents with assistance:
Consumers who have concerns about scams should reach out to the AG’s consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online.
Residents who have concerns about their civil rights should reach out to the AG’s civil rights hotline at (617) 963-2917 or to file a complaint online.
Seniors who have are experiencing problems with their health insurance or provider billing should reach out to the AG’s health care hotline at (888) 830-6277 or file a complaint online. The AG’s Health Care Division also provides tips on how to avoid health care scams on its website.
Seniors who think they have fallen victim to securities fraud should contact the AG’s Insurance and Financial Services Division at (888) 830-6277.