- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
- City of Easthampton
Media Contact for Consumer Protection Panel Will Address Ways to Protect Against Scams
Carolyn Assa, Director of Communications, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Easthampton — The Easthampton Mayor’s Office will join the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) and the Easthampton Police Department for a virtual forum designed to inform and empower consumers on the latest scam tactics and how best to avoid them. Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Undersecretary Edward A. Palleschi host this event and give an overview of programs and services available from their respective government offices.
The panel will include: Easthampton Police Detectives Eric Alexander, Andrew Beaulieu and Mark Popielarczk as well as OCABR Community Outreach Manager Robin Putnam. This one-hour webinar will feature experts from each of the partner organizations as they discuss a range of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming tax season. Attendees will leave with a more robust understanding of how fraudsters operate, and the relevant tools to combat them. This virtual event will be held on Thursday, 4/8/21, at 12pm. It is free and open to all. Register here.
“A lot of people, especially seniors, have felt isolated during the past year due to the pandemic making them vulnerable to scammers. It’s important to remember that government agencies will not call or email to ask for your social security or bank account number,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “We want to make consumers aware of resources that are in place to protect them from those who seek to do them harm or otherwise take advantage of them.”
During the forum, attendees will be able to ask questions of the experts and receive real-time responses. The webinar will cover things like COVID-19 related scams, tax scams, and identity theft as well as inform consumers about resources that each agency offers from hotline phone numbers to how to check the reputation of a vendor. Participants will learn to recognize signs of common scams, empowering them to be better able to avoid falling prey to fraudsters.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), imposter scams - where the perpetrator pretends to be someone else in order to get consumers to give them money - are the most common type of scams. Last year, the FTC logged nearly 500,000 complaints about this type of scam totaling $1.2 billion dollars in loss to consumers. Victims on average lost about $850.
“The Easthampton Police Department frequently receives calls from residents concerned about suspicious telephone calls and scams. These fraudulent activities are not unique to our community, and unfortunately have become quite common,” said Easthampton Police Detective Eric Alexander. “We feel that by identifying the most common types of scams directed at consumers and how to avoid them, we are offering a layer of protection to assist in minimizing exposure to their personal and/or financial information.”
Robocalls are another way that consumers are defrauded. Americans received just under 46 billion robocalls in 2020. This was a decline of almost 22% from 58.5 billion calls recorded in 2019. Scammers can spoof the phone number they are calling from to make it look like one you know so when they ask you for money they seem legitimate. Consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020.
“Criminals are creative and have found ways to stay active during the pandemic. Fraudulent activity reported to my office includes sales of fake COVID-19 test kits, scams that offer early access to the vaccine for a fee, phony COVID-19 vaccine websites made to look like they belong to drug manufacturers, and stimulus check scams in which consumers are asked to share bank and other personal information in order to have quicker access to these funds,” said Edward A. Palleschi, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “OCABR seeks to inform and empower Massachusetts consumers and in doing so protect them from scams.”