The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds seniors and other residents to be aware of phone scamming reported in the area by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

“Phone scamming is unfortunately one of the most common kinds of fraud committed on senior citizens today,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “To avoid getting scammed, never give out personal information over the phone, and always check to confirm that you are not being targeted by a scammer.”

Persons who receive phone calls involving money or personal information are advised to hang up and call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs hotline at 800-242-5846 to confirm if the call is genuine or a scam.

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As one common example, fraudsters contact their victims by phone and claim to be their grandchild, muffling their voice while claiming to be in serious trouble. The scammer may claim to be stranded on a trip or vacation, out of money, or about to be arrested, and begs the victim to send money immediately without notifying their parents.

“If you get such a call, write down the phone number and hang up. Stay calm and contact family members to check if the call is genuine or a scam,” said Freeholder Chair Kowalski.

Another recent scam involves calls allegedly coming from a government employee on behalf of Medicare or Medicaid, who will ask questions about a claim or replacement of an insurance card. The scammer will ask for personal information or data that can be used to file false reports, and steal the victim’s identity and money.

Residents who receive calls regarding an IRS lawsuit should also hang up immediately. IRS scams can be reported to the Treasury Department by using the online fraud reporting system at treasury.gov.

Freeholder Chair Kowalski also advised residents that a consumer complaint has been filed against several New Jersey companies for selling wireless alert systems to seniors that failed to work or were never delivered.

For more information about consumer frauds and how to avoid them, visit the Anti-Fraud Toolkit, an 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.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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