(TRENTON) – Cracking down on scammers who are coercing New Jersey residents by phone – predominantly senior citizens – into making large purchases in the form of refillable gift cards, Assembly Democrats Anthony S. Verrelli, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Carol Murphy sponsored legislation to put a stop to the victimization of vulnerable New Jerseyans. The bill cleared the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The impetus for the bill was an incident that occurred in May of 2019 in Assemblyman Verrelli’s district. A CVS employee recognized the warning signs of an over- the-phone fraud case and stopped an elderly woman from sending thousands of dollars in prepaid gift cards to the scammers. The employee became suspicious and inquired why, and then notified their manager and the police.
“These types of schemes usually target teens, young adults, and the elderly,” said Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), who emphasized that the scams either require residents to read the activation code on the back of the gift cards over the phone or send pictures of this code to the scammers. “It makes it harder for law enforcement to track their location when the scam is ultimately reported to the police. The bill will help combat these online and over-the-phone schemes at the point of purchase.”
The legislation (A-802) would mandate additional training for retail employees across New Jersey in identifying customers who have fallen victim to instances of over-the-phone gift-card fraud.
“We are aiming to do everything in our power to protect our senior citizens,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “By equipping sales employees with the necessary tools to help stop fraud when they see it, we help our seniors who are being targeted.”
“Employees identifying when gift card scams are happening and immediately knowing how to respond will help those targeted avoid these devious schemes,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “We want to do our best to ensure that people, especially senior citizens, are not getting their money stolen.”