"Protecting Arkansans" in Paragould

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Four government agencies have banded together with AARP to protect Arkansans. Representatives from the Attorney General's office, State Insurance and Securities Departments, DHS, and AARP were at the community center in Paragould on Thursday, September 23rd.

They are part of a program called, "Protecting Arkansans" that has been visiting cities all over Arkansas for almost two years.

Speakers told participants about different types of fraud and how to protect themselves from becoming the victim of a scam.

Ninety year old Paragould resident, Mary Esther Herget, attended the meeting to hear what the representatives had to say.

Mary says she was happy with the information she learned, "I was thrilled to hear about Tri-Care. I am under Medicare and Tri-Care and the gentleman said your in good hands. And that make me feel so good because there are so many changes, now, in the health service. I don't know what's going to happen next."

Mary says that seniors need help protecting themselves from scams.

"Coming here today and meeting these officials that do care and are working for the senior citizens, that is so important because some of us are not as active and can't do as much, but we do need somebody to take care of us and see that our rights are upheld."

Deputy Attorney General, James DePriest, was one of the representatives speaking to seniors.

"One of our duties is to provide consumer education to our consumers in Arkansas. Here, today, I'm speaking to a senior group so I'm going to concentrate on consumer frauds and scams that target seniors."

DePriest says the most common problem his office has found is with tele marketing scams.

"In dealing with tele marketers in particular, in dealing with the Internet. If it seems to good to be true, it is. So, you should always be careful. You should check things out. You should shop for any product like you shop for clothes. Check around and get the best price. You don't buy until you're certain you got the right thing."

DePriest says the most common question they've had from seniors is how to know when someone's being honest.

"Most commonly, they want to know whether the people who call them on the phone, tele marketing calls, are telling the truth. Most of the time they're not. And you have many examples they give us of people who call and give them a pitch of one kind or another. And it almost always turns out to be fraud. If you don't know whether one is or not, what you need to do is assume they all are. Deal with your local community and businesses in your local community."

DePriest recommends keeping your information to yourself, "The best thing they can do to protect themselves is to be informed consumers. Check things out before you obligate yourself, before you buy. Before they provide personalized information to anybody who contacts them who they don't know personally."

Deputy Commissioner for Arkansas Securities Department, Ann McDougal, says if something sounds to good to be true, then it is!

"Always, if someone says 'trust me', no! You make an investment decision based on disclosure and knowledge of all the material facts. So, if they say 'trust me. Give me all your money, I can handle it.' Don't do that. Always stay in control of your money."

McDougal says if an investment opportunity is legitimate, then they're registered.

Be sure to do your homework, call and check before you commit to anything or give out any information.

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