By Josh Stein
Last year, my office received 1,249 complaints from North Carolinians who had lost nearly $4.5 million through elder fraud. Scammers will often target older adults because they may be more vulnerable to the tactics used to frighten them out of their hard-earned money. That’s why this month, I launched Operation Silver Shield to confront the scammers and fraudsters who prey on older North Carolinians.
Operation Silver Shield covers all of the work my office does to protect people and their money, including going after scammers, taking legal action against bad actors who break the law and educating people on how to keep themselves and their parents and grandparents safe. You can learn more about our work at www.ncdoj.gov/silver.
Our first Operation Silver Shield initiative gets to the heart of how many scams originate – through robocalls. We’ve heard from older residents who have lost $6,500 to a sweepstakes scam, $6,500 to an imposter scam and nearly $400 to a utility scam. Each of these crooks ensnared their victims with a spam call.
These incessant calls are a nuisance at best; at worst, they can result in people losing their life savings. But robocallers are clever about the tricks they use to hide their identity and location. That’s why we need your help. We launched the Robocall Report Task Force so you can report the robocalls you receive. When you get a spam call, report it to our office using the online web form at www.ncdoj.gov/norobo or by calling our robo-report hotline at 844-8-NO-ROBO.
When you share information about these calls with us, we can investigate them and share information with our federal partners and with telecom companies. The more data we have, the better we’ll be able go after these callers and find more effective solutions to stop the scourge of robocalls.
The Robocall Report Task Force is the next step in my work to cut down on robocalls. Last year, I led a group of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies to create the Anti-Robocall Principles, a set of eight principles the phone companies agreed to implement to help fight these calls. Since we agreed on the principles, these companies have made important progress. But our phones have continued to ring, and I’m continuing to push these companies to strengthen their efforts to track and stop these callers.
As we continue through 2020, I will share more about our efforts to fight robocallers and our broader efforts to protect older North Carolinians from scammers through Operation Silver Shield. You can also learn more at www.ncdoj.gov/silver so you can take necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Josh Stein serves as attorney general for North Carolina.