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AARP Foundation Call Center Fights Fraud by Educating Seniors

man with laptop computer and cell phone

— Jean Michel Foujols/Getty Images

Bob Toye manages the AARP Foundation’s Consumer Fraud Prevention Call Center in Denver. 

AARP:  The call center is making calls to at-risk seniors about financial frauds, is that right?

Bob Toye:  Yes, it is.  Our project operates in tandem with the Foundation’s ElderWatch program here in Colorado.  ElderWatch is offered in partnership with the Colorado Attorney General’s office, and collects and provides information to people who have been or may become the victims of a wide variety of scams.  Whereas their volunteers are taking calls, at the new center we’re reaching out to older and elderly adults across the country to alert them to a series of money transfer frauds.

Money transfer fraud, what’s that?

Basically, these are scams designed to get you to wire money to someone you don’t know in advance of receiving a prize or gift that you will, in fact, never receive. 

How do these scams work?

You may get a call, an email or a letter announcing that you’ve won a lottery, for example, or a special prize.  They may say you are one of “an exclusive few” who have been selected or qualify for an amazing bargain price on an incredibly expensive item.  You may be offered a job, a credit card, maybe a loan.  The bottom line to these frauds is always the requirement that you must wire them money – right away - to cover fees, administrative expenses or other costs.  And these can range from small amounts to hundreds, thousands, even ten of thousands of dollars.  It’s just incredible.

What are you looking to achieve?

We want them to be able to recognize, refuse, and report these scams.  Those are the three R’s of fraud fighting.  We’re educating consumers to be suspicious of things that sounds too good to be true and to never give out their personal information to someone they don’t know. 

In this economy, especially for those on limited incomes, financial frauds can be financially devastating.  How can AARP members help?

The tough times do bring out the bad guys, that’s for sure.  And the stories we hear from folks taken in by these scams can be just heartbreaking.  Our goal is to contact some 200,000 people with this important message over next two years, and we welcome new volunteers.  For members in the Denver area who would like to support the center us, either as individuals or in groups of five, we’d love to hear from you.  When it comes to recruiting, we try to be extremely flexible with peoples’ valuable time and busy schedules.  So the motto is, whatever works for you will most likely work for us!

To volunteer, or for more information on the Call Center, contact Bob Toye at 720-947-5304 or by email to rtoye@aarp.org.

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