The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds seniors and other residents to be aware of consumer scams reported in the area by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
“It is always a good practice to be vigilant, especially when it comes to foundational services like your utility bill and tax returns,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “Never give out personal information over the phone, and always check an official website or phone number to confirm that you are dealing with a reliable source.”
In one recent scam, fraudsters contacted their victims by phone and claimed to represent the utility PSE&G. They threatened to cut off services unless the victim immediately paid their bill using a pre-paid card.
“If you get such a call, hang up immediately. You can contact PSE&G with any questions you may have, and you can find their official contact information on one of your past utility bills.” said Bergen.
Another recent scam involves robo-calls threatening the victim with a “lawsuit” by the Internal Revenue Service.
“Tax scams used to be more frequent around the spring tax return season, but now they have become a year-round problem,” said Freeholder Angel G. Estrada, who chairs the Freeholder Board’s Public Safety Committee.
Residents who receive calls regarding an IRS lawsuit should hang up immediately. IRS scams can be reported to the Treasury Department by using the online fraud reporting system at treasury.gov.
Estrada also advised residents that a consumer complaint has been filed against several New Jersey companies for selling senior wireless alert systems that failed to work or were never delivered.
The companies involved are named Life Aid Connect, Safety Alert USA LLC, Med Aid Alert and Mobile Alert, Inc.
Residents who have had similar experiences with these companies can call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200 to register their complaint.
For more information about consumer frauds and how to avoid them, visit the Anti-Fraud Toolkit, a new online information hub created by the Division of Consumer Affairs at FightingFraud.nj.gov.
The Anti-Fraud Toolkit includes downloadable tip sheets in English and Spanish on avoiding consumer fraud, with a focus on scams that target seniors.
It also includes the new Real-Time Fraud Alerts email network, which delivers quick, accurate information about new scams.
Union County residents are also encouraged to report possible frauds and scams to the Union County Office of Consumer Affairs. To file a complaint online visit ucnj.org/public-safety or call 908-654-9840.
Another protective measure is to ensure that sensitive personal documents are shredded and securely disposed. Union County sponsors a regular series of free, secure paper shredding events throughout the spring, summer and fall. For details on upcoming events visit ucnj.org/recycling.
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