CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137


TRENTON, N.J.—The Mercer County Office of Consumer Affairs wants residents to be aware of a number of scams that offer financial gain related to the federal economic stimulus package.

In Mercer County, scammers have sent mailers offering residents a secondary stimulus check from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  Respondents are then asked to call a toll-free number and are pressured to buy a kit to purchase foreclosed properties.

Other examples of recent scams include an e-mail message asking for bank account information so that stimulus funds can be deposited, but instead money is withdrawn from bank accounts; requests to verify information by going to a particular web site and then malicious software is downloaded; and deceptive web sites with images of government officials to make the sites look legitimate.  All these methods lure people into providing personal information, thereby possibly subjecting them to identity theft.
 
Additionally, some sites ask for a minimal sum of money to receive a list of economic stimulus grants.  As a result, scammers will either use consumer’s credit card numbers for personal use or ensnare people into agreements that will cost thousands of dollars if they cancel.

Consumers who think they may have been victimized should carefully check their credit card bills and bank statements for unauthorized charges. 

Mercer County residents should contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at (609) 989-6671 or online at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/commissions/consumer/index.html if they believe they have been a victim of a scam. For more information about economic stimulus package scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site at www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/03/stimulusscam.shtm.