Iowa Insurance Division Brings Iowa Fraud Fighters Forum to Burlington

Written by Theresa Rose on April 30, 2019
 

Learn Tips to Fight Fraud and Report Investment Schemes, Fraudulent Robocalls, Imposter Scams, Medicare Fraud and other Cons at Complimentary Luncheon

 BURLINGTON, Iowa – Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen announced today that the Iowa Insurance Division (IID) is bringing the statewide Iowa Fraud Fighters – Shield Your Savings public education program to the PZAZZ! Convention & Event Center ballroom, 3001 Winegard Drive, Burlington, Iowa 52601, Burlington, IA 50588, on May 16. The program will educate and empower Iowans to combat and report investment, insurance and consumer fraud.

A 2015 True Link report on elder financial abuse estimated 1 in 3 Americans ages 65 and older were affected by financial abuse over a five-year period, with seniors losing $36.48 billion dollars each year to financial exploitation, criminal fraud and caregiver abuse.

“Fraudsters target seniors because they know these hardworking Iowans have saved for their retirements and that is where the money is,” said Commissioner Ommen. “Being a victim is not a weakness; these perpetrators are professional con artists who have scammed the most sophisticated of investors. In fact, the True Link report found those with post-graduate degrees are more likely to be defrauded and tend to lose more than others.”

Martha-Jo Ennis, a retired schoolteacher from Marion, Iowa, said she never understood how anyone could fall victim for an investment scheme until it happened to her. She lost her retirement savings and the money she invested from the sale of her family farm, totaling over $1 million.

“Ms. Ennis is a hero for reporting fraud and allowing the Iowa Insurance Division to share her story at our Iowa Fraud Fighters forums,” said Commissioner Ommen. “At these forums, we stress the importance of reporting fraud to the appropriate authorities, and the state has been able to prosecute, get injunctions and settlements from investigations stemming from information gathered at these forums.”

The Iowa Insurance Division collaborates with other state agency partners to cover the scams that fall outside the division’s jurisdiction. These partners present the Iowa Fraud Fighters program and panel discussion:

  • Iowa Insurance Commissioner Ommen
  • Iowa Attorney General’s Office Investigator Al Perales
  • Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Director Kris Gross

            Topics covered include investment fraud, identity theft, Medicare fraud, imposter scams, fraudulent robocalls, charity scams and elder law issues.

“One of the things I like best about these fraud prevention educational forums is that they are not paid for by tax dollars,” said Commissioner Ommen. “We take a portion of the fines and settlements we collect from the scammers and fund forums to educate Iowans on how to outsmart these scammers.”

Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., lunch is served at noon and the program concludes at 1:30 p.m. Informational booths staffed by agency representatives and forum assistance providers, including AARP, close at 2 p.m. To RSVP for the complimentary lunch program, call toll-free at 866-559-7114, or fill out the online form at www.IowaFraudFighters.gov by Thursday, May 9. This free event is limited to the first 200 respondents.

“I highly encourage those who are investing for retirement, as well as retired Iowans and their caretakers, to RSVP and attend our Iowa Fraud Fighters forum,” said Commissioner Ommen. “It’s an opportunity for us all to come together in Burlington to create an environment where we’re all comfortable to freely talk about these issues. When you hear that a friend or neighbor may have been scammed, you’ll know which state government agency to call for help. It’s about protecting yourself, but it’s also about continuing the dialogue locally — to be part of the solution and help protect your neighbors or those you care for.”

Iowans are encouraged to visit www.IowaFraudFighters.gov to learn about common scams and discover tips and tools to prevent fraud, including a checklist of information to gather from investment advisers to verify the legitimacy of the offer and the investment adviser.

Ommen said promissory note schemes are one of the most common types of investment fraud he sees, noting there are always new scams circulating in Iowa. His office recently put out a news release warning Iowans to be cautious when it comes to telemarketers selling seniors medical devices their doctors have not recommended, noting the federal government just broke up a $1.2 billion Medicare fraud scam, centered on orthopedic braces.

“Scammers are after Iowans’ new Medicare card numbers to defraud the government. If you suspect Medicare fraud, call Senior Medicare Patrol, which is now housed at IID, along with SHIIP,” said Commissioner Ommen. “I am passionate about helping Iowans take charge in the fight against fraud and look forward to meeting fellow Iowans as I cross the state presenting at these Iowa Fraud Fighters forums.”

The IID has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or investment questions, or complaints, may contact the IID toll-free at 877-955-1212, or visit www.iid.iowa.gov.

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 Editor’s Note: See Iowa Fraud Fighter Tips sidebar below.

Sidebar: Iowa Fraud Fighter Tips

 

  • If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is neither good nor true.
  • If the offer is only good for today, then walk away.
  • Never send money today for the promise of receiving more money later.
  • Stop. Call. Confirm. Double-check with IID before you invest to ensure the agent and the security are registered and in good standing.
  • Talk it over with a trusted friend or adviser. Scammers will try to isolate victims from friends and family, and use pressure, threats and tactics that prey on your emotions, such as fear (IRS scam), excitement (sweepstakes scam), love and loneliness (romance and grandparent scams), or patriotism (veterans charity scam).
  • Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know — ever. The IRS, Medicare, Social Security Administration, your banks and credit card companies already have your personal information. They would never call you or email you and ask you for it. It is an imposter scam.
  • If someone asks you for payments in Apple iTunes cards, gift cards, debit cards and other monetary forms of no defense, it probably is a scam. Don’t send the money or cards.
  • Scammers use robocalls and spoofed numbers to look like a local number calling. Don’t answer the phone if you do not know the number; let it go to voicemail. If you answer it, the scammer knows it is an active number, and the robocalls will increase. According to the TrueLink report, a person who answers one telemarketing call per day is three times more likely to experience financial loss.
  • Check the fine print in all agreements and especially when ordering items online or on TV. Many scams include hidden charges and extra fees in the fine print.