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Minnesota Consumer Rights Blog

Are you familiar with these senior fraud scams?

Many scams target senior citizens, as they are often more likely to make a rash and uninformed decisions than younger people. Despite the best efforts of the federal and state governments, there's no way to completely eliminate these scams.

Here are four of the most common senior fraud scams:

  • Medicare scams: This typically entails a person posing as a Medicare or health care representative claiming they can help a person obtain benefits. This prompts the individual to share personal information, which is then used to steal their identity.
  • Counterfeit prescription drugs: Senior citizens are typically on the lookout for ways to save money. This often leads them to search for lower cost prescription drugs. However, there are many scams involving the sale of counterfeit drugs. Not only does this impact a person's finances, but it can also affect their health.
  • Telemarketing scams: These scams change by the day, with most designed to take advantage of senior citizens who may have hearing issues and not be 100 percent sure of what the other person is saying to them.
  • Lottery scams: A scammer notifies a person that they have won the lottery or some other prize. They tell the person that all they need is their bank account information to wire the money. Of course, their primary objective is to steal this information for personal gain.

Debt collectors can’t do whatever they want

A financial hardship is difficult enough without debt collectors harassing you. If this becomes a problem, you're sure to find yourself in an even more stressful situation.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself. First and foremost, remember this: Debt collectors are not permitted to do whatever they want.

What is the National Do Not Call Registry?

There is nothing more frustrating than receiving one telemarketing phone call after the next. Many people receive as many as 10 calls per day.

If you find yourself in this position, the National Do Not Call Registry may be able to help. You can register online or via phone and get your number on the registry the next business day. While it doesn't take long to add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry, it can take up to 31 days for calls to stop.

Wrongful credit reporting: Errors that hurt your good name

When credit reports are wrong, they can be a problem for you. Whether someone else's information is entered onto your report or debts are sent to collection when they were already paid, it's important that you address these issues right away.

It is normal for mistakes to be made, but when they affect you, it's vital that they're corrected. In fact, the top complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that there were incorrect pieces of information on a credit report. Errors were at the top of the list.

Minnesota seniors are urged to avoid precious metals investments

The Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) recently issued a public warning intended specifically at senior citizens. In their statement, they warned them about cold callers who may try to reach out to them about a precious metals investment opportunity. DOC officials are warning that they've determined that it's a scam.

This latest consumer warning was issued after the DOC became aware that individuals who work for Metals.com, a precious metals company, had been calling seniors throughout the country.

Fair Credit Reporting Act 7-year rule violations can be damaging

Many employers here in Minnesota and elsewhere across the country require their employees to undergo credit or criminal background checks, or both, before they are hired on for a job. While you may assume that this entitles them to pull your records from decades ago, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits them from doing that.

The way that the FCRA is written is that third-party background reporting companies can only provide prospective employers with criminal convictions that have occurred during the past seven years.

Does your lender have the legal right to repossess your car?

When you take out a loan to purchase a vehicle, you agree to pay it back based on the terms and conditions of the agreement.

There are many situations in which your lender may consider its legal rights for repossessing your car. However, there are specific steps your lender must take, all to ensure that they're not violating the law.

Take these steps as a victim of identity theft

Even if you take steps to protect against identity theft, there's no guarantee you won't become a victim in the future.

If you find that your identity has been stolen, here are some immediate steps to take:

  • Lock the account: For example, if you notice unauthorized charges on your credit card, contact the financial institution to dispute the charges and lock your account for the time being.
  • Review your credit report: There's always a chance you'll spot something suspicious on your credit report, such as a credit card account you didn't open. If this happens, contact the reporting agency to file a dispute.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission: Not only does this leave a paper trail associated with the identity theft, but it also provides you with advice for recovering and related documents.
  • Request a fraud alert on your credit reports: Contact all three credit bureaus to request a fraud alert, as this notifies financial institutions that pull your credit to take extra care.
  • Sign up for credit monitoring: There are various credit monitoring services that can alert you of trouble, typically before you'd find it on your own.

Take these steps if you get a robocall

If you have a telephone, which most people do, there's a good chance you have received at least one robocall this week. In addition to causing frustration, especially if you're in the middle of something important, robocalls are often designed to scam you.

Here are some of the many things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Don't answer the phone: If you suspect a robocall, it's best to hit the ignore button or let it ring. In the event that you're wrong about the caller, the person can leave a voice message or try again later.
  • Hang up the phone: If you answer a robocall and begin to hear a recorded message, such as a sales pitch, don't wait to hang up. Unless you have given the company written permission, it's illegal for them to call you. Even so, this alone is not enough to stop robocalls.
  • Don't press any number: It sounds like a good idea to press zero for an operator, but this is actually a mistake. Telling a live person to remove you from their list is not going to do anything. In fact, it's more likely to lead to an influx of robocalls in the near future.
  • Contact your phone provider: Most providers are able to block a number for you for free. You may even be able to do this yourself from your cellphone or online account. The only issue with this is that many robocallers change their information, thus allowing them to get in touch with you despite the block.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): You can do so online or via phone. This allows you to report the call, while also learning more about your legal rights. You may even pick up some advice for better dealing with these calls in the future.

You may soon have a year to pay off your medical debts

A United States Senator from Oregon introduced a proposed amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) on May 21. If passed, then all creditors would be required to wait one-year before adding any patient's medical debts to their consumer credit report. The Medical Debt Relief Act of 2019, would also require creditors to remove settled or paid debts from their credit reports as well.

The same legislator that is proposing this bill had previously introduced a 180-day waiting period under the Medical Debt Relief Act back in 2018.

Get Answers To Your Questions

Contact the Consumer Justice Center. Tommy Lyons can speak with you in a free initial consultation arranged at 800-556-6752, toll free, or by email from wherever you are in the U.S.

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