Consumer alert: stimulus scam - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Consumer alert: stimulus scam

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- From the Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging:

The economic downturn has created a virtual breeding ground for scam artists ready to take advantage of the desperation many are feeling. The Iowa SMP and AARP Call Center, programs offered through Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging, are warning about another scam which plays right into the buzz words everyone is hearing straight from our government - the "Economic Stimulus Scam."

"The economy is tough and there are con artists out there looking to make things a whole lot tougher," said Cecilia Johnson, AARP Call Center Coordinator at Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging. "Everywhere you turn there is news about the economic stimulus plan and this scam plays into that theme tempting consumers with ‘big money fast' and a dream vacation."

This scam is typically sent through regular mail or e-mail with a letter congratulating the victim that they have been chosen to receive an economic stimulus payment in the amount of $2,500.  In order to receive the payment, a stimulus form must be completed and mailed back immediately within 7 days along with a processing payment of $119.05. The offer also states that as a thank you for your participation in the new stimulus program, you are the recipient of a dream vacation giveaway.

"We always try to warn people to never give out their personal information over the phone, through the mail or e-mail, or on the internet unless you initiated the contact and know who you are dealing with," stated Deb Yankey, SMP Coordinator at Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging. "You should always be suspicious of requests for upfront fees and never click on links sent in unsolicited emails. Legitimate companies do not ask for personal or financial information over the phone or via e-mail."

To learn more about how to recognize and report fraud, access the Federal Trade Commission at or call the Iowa Attorney General's office toll free at 1-888-777-4590. If you are an older person needing assistance obtaining information or reporting suspected fraud, call Iowa SMP at 1-800-423-2449.

HVAAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation serving elders in Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy, Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama counties. HVAAA coordinates services for people ages 60 and older and their caregivers to maintain the independence they desire. Some of the services provided by HVAAA include home delivered meals, caregiver support and respite services, case management services, congregate meals, public information and education, Senior Helpline, and advocacy.

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