From the notorious “granny scam” in which a caller claims to be a grandchild in trouble needing immediate financial assistance, to the chilling “government imposter” scams, in which the caller claims to be from a government agency like the IRS or Social Security Administration and threatens unwary consumers with arrest, imposter scams were the top complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in 2018. According to the FTC, “Consumers reported losing a total of nearly $488 million to all types of imposter scams in 2018—more than any other type of fraud—and reported a median loss of $500.”
The Northwestern District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit has launched a series of illustrated and video tips to help consumers recognize, avoid - and help others to avoid – today’s most common scams. The tips are being widely distributed to local community TV stations, senior centers, police departments and others.
“Knowledge is power,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said. “The more you know about the tricks criminals use to try to steal your money, the better prepared you will be when you answer a phone call from a scammer.”
The tips address a wide range of scams and schemes from imposter scams to tech support, charity, door-to-door, online shopping, money-wiring, identity theft, time share, bitcoin, phishing, flood car, home improvement and free trial scams.
The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office has been home to a local consumer protection program since 1973. It is one of 18 programs statewide working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Garrett and Wilson are trained consumer specialists who work to resolve consumer complaints through a volunteer consumer advocacy program. They also provide resources and referrals to the public. In 2018, the Consumer Protection Unit received 1,647 calls, opened 376 cases and helped recover $148,386 for consumers.
Consumer Tip 1: Granny Scam
Consumer Tip 2: Social Security Scam
Consumer Tip 3: Tech Support Scam
Consumer Tip 4: Scam Alert
Consumer Tip 5: IRS Scam
Consumer Tip 6: Charity Scams
Consumer Tip 7: Door-to-Door Sales
Consumer Tip 8: Online Shopping
Consumer Tip 9: Money wiring
Consumer Tip 10: Identity Theft
Consumer Tip 11: Timeshare Scam
Consumer Tip 12: Bitcoin Scams
Consumer Tip 13: Imposter Scams
Consumer Tip 14: Phishing Scam
Consumer Tip 15: Flood car scam
Consumer Tip 16: Home Improvement Scam
Consumer Tip 17: Free Trial Offers