Attorney general warns seniors against scams
September 19, 1999
Craig — Junk mail and telephone solicitations tend to annoy most people, and for Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar they have become a priority.
Salazar visited Craig Friday where he addressed a crowd of seniors at the Sunset Meadows independent living center. The purpose of Salazar’s address was to warn and educate seniors about fraud. According to Salazar, fighting senior fraud has become a personal issue for him because many people he is close to have been taken in scams designed to go after older people’s money.
“The reason that I have become so interested is because I have seen sweepstakes dealers come into my parents living room and breakfast room and swindle money from them,” said Salazar.
Salazar explained there are more than 40,000 inquires from consumers each year into different outfits soliciting money. Only 5,000 are investigated due to constraints on the attorney general’s office. Senior citizens are viewed as the most vulnerable by solicitation groups.
“As soon as people reach a certain age they become targeted by these operations,” said Salazar. “The amount of mail pertaining to these scams that these people get increases significantly.”
Salazar is making senior fraud one of the priorities for his office.
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“There was a value of respect for older people when I was growing up,” said Salazar. “It is that fundamental value of respect that is the most assaulted whenever seniors are targeted.”
Judging by the turnout and response to Salazar’s speech Friday, there is a need for something to be done. Many of the seniors attending asked questions about how they can stop the many telephone calls and literature they receive soliciting money. Long distance telephone companies were pointed out as one of the most frequent and confusing solicitations they receive both through the mail and over the telephone. Salazar explained his office is putting together a telephone company code of ethics. This would set up certain rules that solicitors would have to follow when selling services over the telephone. Some of these would be declaring the company they work for at the beginning of the conversation and limiting numbers of calls to residences.
After Salazar’s speech he was approached by Craig resident Joe Edwards. Edwards handed Salazar a stack of mail with eight different sweepstakes envelopes. Some of the sweepstakes mailings had envelopes designed to look like government envelopes with others strategically showing what looks like a check for $150,000 through the window on the envelope.
“This was just today’s mail,” said Edwards. “I’m not sure how I get on these lists, but it is a problem and I’m not the only one receiving this many of these. In fact, I normally receive more than this in a day.”
Salazar explained that for the younger generation it’s just junk mail, but older generations have trouble judging the difference between mass mailings and mail meant specifically for them.
“This makes me so upset,” said Salazar. “We’re going to start hitting back these companies who pray on these people. We owe it to our older generations to look out for them.”