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VALLEY FOCUS | North Hills

AARP Class Targets Telemarketing Fraud

February 07, 1998|TOM BECKER

The American Assn. of Retired Persons on Tuesday will offer free training for volunteers, law enforcement professionals and service agencies on how to identify and deal with telemarketing fraud targeted at seniors.

The program will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Mid-Valley Regional Library, 16244 Nordhoff St. It will be run by Doug Shadel, the AARP's consumer affairs representative, who has worked closely on the issue with the FBI and the state attorney general's office.

"Seniors are often targeted in telemarketing schemes, and they don't always realize it right away," said Carmen Ulmer, an AARP spokeswoman.

According to AARP reports, Americans lose an estimated $40 billion each year due to the fraudulent sales of goods and services over the telephone. FBI figures say that more than 78% of the victims are 55 or older.

At Tuesday's workshop, Ulmer said, Shadel will give tips for identifying telemarketing scams.

Typical calls can start by telling the person they will win a prize if they agree to purchase something from the company. However, under the law, all prizes are free and do not require any purchase, according to Shadel.

A second pitch is made to people who have already lost money in a telemarketing scam. In this scheme, the caller tells the victims they can get their money back if they divulge a credit card number to cover a low service charge.

Contrary to popular belief, most victims are not lonely, isolated people. Ulmer said the most common victim profile is an educated, socially active person with a higher-than-average income.

For more information on the event, co-sponsored by the city of Los Angeles Office of the Mayor/Volunteer Bureau, call AARP at (888) 227-3452.

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