BOSTON (CBS) – This is National Consumers Protection Week. This is a national campaign to help consumers make better-informed decisions and avoid being scammed. Billions of dollars are lost each year to scammers. And scammers are very smart!

Answer your phone, open your e-mails and the scams find you. The Better Business Bureau has put together their top list for 2013. These are scams they believe to be the most widespread. Some were new to me.

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Medical Alert Scam – This is a new telemarketing scam which targets seniors and their caretakers. Seniors are very vulnerable for they are more trusting. The caller may chat them up and is usually very friendly and concerned about their well-being.

The caller promises a “free” medical alert system because a family member or friend has already paid for it. In many cases, seniors are asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and were charged a monthly $35 service fee.

The system never arrives and the seniors are left with a charge they have trouble getting refunded. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service. If someone calls with an offer so good it doesn’t seem it could be true, it’s not!

Auction Reseller Scam – Many people use eBay and other online auctions sites to sell used items they no longer need, and relatively new electronics seem to do especially well. But scammers have figured out a way to fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment.

Usually the buyer claims it’s an “emergency” of some sort – a child’s birthday, a member of the military shipping out – and asks the seller to ship the same day. The seller receives an email that looks like it’s from PayPal confirming the payment, but emails are easy to fake. Always confirm payment in your eBay and PayPal accounts before shipping, especially to an overseas address.

One more thing:  Attention all veterans, service members and their families:  

Military Saves Week

Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office will be co-sponsoring an all-day free seminar for the military.


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A FREE financial empowerment conference open to veterans, service members and their families.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Mass Bay Community College
McKenzie Auditorium
50 Oakland Street, Wellesley MA


If you are a service member, veteran, or are related to one, join us to sharpen your financial skills and better understand your military benefits at the Operation Money Wise conference! This FREE, first-ever event is geared toward military and their families and will feature dynamic keynote speaker, Dick Power, CFP and retired Army Colonel.

The day will also include over a dozen other expert speakers on a variety of diverse financial topics, as well as an interactive learning lunch with local celebrity radio personality Dee Lee, CFP. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Certified Financial Planner, Credit Counselor and/or Career Counselor.

Breakout sessions provide lessons and materials in:

– Budgeting & Setting Financial Goals
– Dealing with Debt
– Retirement Readiness
– Money & Disability
– Basics of Investing
– Home Ownership 101
– Using Your Education Benefits
– Bridging The Financial Gap to College

Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

We hope to see you there!

A Joint project of:

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Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office
Massachusetts National Guard and Reserve
Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services
Massachusetts Financial Literacy Trust Fund
Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee