"Congratulations! You've won our big prize! But before we can release your check, you'll need to pay shipping, taxes and processing fees. All I need is your credit card number and expiration date."
The urgent voice on the other end of the line often sounds legitimate.
"I'm calling from your bank. Someone is trying to withdraw funds from your account. I'll need to verify your account number and mother's maiden name to confirm that I'm speaking to the rightful owner of the account."
But in fact, you're probably on the line with a criminal. Consumers lose billions of dollars every year to various kinds of consumer fraud. According to a study conducted by AARP, people over 50 years of age are especially vulnerable and account for more than half of all victims.
Now we're fighting back. A dedicated group of trained volunteers calling themselves the "Fraud Fighters" are reaching out to consumers across the nation with the tips, resources and information they need to protect themselves from fraud and abuse. The project is a partnership between the AARP Foundation and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Since opening in 2006, the Call Center has already helped more than 250,000 consumers. Some of the outgoing calls are made to people appearing on call lists seized during law enforcement raids of fraudulent telemarketing boiler rooms. These so called "sucker lists" are typically sold and resold among multiple con artists looking for their next victim. The lists sometimes include detailed information about the victim's finances and personal interests, as well as the specific fraudulent pitches they have been known to fall for.
To keep a step ahead of emerging scams, the Call Center also collaborates with a number of key leaders and community partners including the Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Washington State Crime Prevention Association, the Better Business Bureau, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Fraud Fighters Are Ready to Help You
According to AARP surveys, an overwhelming majority of Washington adults are concerned about becoming a victim of consumer fraud. A significant number of consumers are also concerned about a family member or friend falling victim to a scam.
Research conducted by AARP and the Department of Justice showed that consumer education can lower a victim's willingness to respond to fraudulent pitches by over 50 percent. If you have questions, or would like the Fraud Fighter Call Center to contact someone you care about, call 1-800-646-2283. Trained Fraud Fighters are standing by with consumer protection tips and contact information for law enforcement agencies if needed.
If you're ready to join the fight against fraud—we're ready for you! AARP is actively recruiting new Call Center volunteers in the Seattle area. Volunteers will receive training from experts in the field of consumer protection and law enforcement, including information about the latest in consumer scams and proven tactics to prevent victimization.
For more information about this exciting volunteer opportunity, call 1-800-646-2283 or Fraud Fighter Call Center Director Jean Mathisen at firstname.lastname@example.org.