'Scam Jam' comes to Oregon as fraud cases rise

Officials conduct COVID-19 tests at the Ontario Municipal Airport in December of 2020. According to an official with AARP, the most common scams right now involve the COVID-19 vaccine. Locally, the Malheur County Health Department and many health-care facilities are offering the test for free.

PORTLAND

Oregonians have opportunities this month to find out how to protect themselves from fraud.

The Oregon Scam Jam is taking place virtually each Friday this month, starting April 9. Doug Shadel, the AARP Washington state director and a former assistant attorney general in that state, is hosting the first session.

He said the most common scams right now involve the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It ranges from, 'We can get you an appointment tomorrow, but you've got to give us your personal information,' and then they take that personal information and use it to exploit your credit," said Shadel. "Or even asking for money to be able to get to the head of the line."

The Scam Jam is hosted by AARP Oregon, the Oregon Attorney General's Office and Oregon Division of Financial Regulation. Future presentations include information on avoiding disasters, and fraud, and romance scams.

Shadel will speak about the ease with which thieves are using robocalls to trick people. He said one robocall app for phones allows scammers to customize what potential victims see on their caller ID.

"You can put any number you want in there," said Shadel. "You can put Social Security Administration, you can put the White House. You can put a local number, so people think it's your next-door neighbor calling you — that's called 'neighbor spoofing.' So, we're going to go over a lot of the different tactics that they use to get you to pick up the phone."

The federal government will require phone companies to do more to stop robocalls and call-spoofing by the end of June this year. The Federal Trade Commission finds consumers lost $3.3 billion to scams in 2020 — up from $1.8 billion in 2019.

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