HANCOCK - As they are in the rest of the country, telephone scams are prevalent in the Copper Country, and one recent scam involves people claiming to be representing AARP.
Alice Kinnunen of Hancock said during this summer, she received many calls from someone claiming to be with the organization representing retired people, and was offered a free medical alert system.
"I've been getting a lot of these calls, even two times a day," Kinnunen said.
Usually, Kinnunen said she would hang up on the callers, but one caller last week offered her $3,000 worth of free groceries.
"I thought, 'If this is legitimate, I'll go for the $3,000 of groceries,'" she said.
When she expressed interest in getting the groceries, Kinnunen said the caller asked for her credit card number, and although she was reluctant, she gave it.
"I was very hesitant of that," she said.
When the caller asked for another number on the back of the card, Kinnunen said she became suspicious and hung up.
After that call, Kinnunen said she called AARP and was told the organization has no such program going. The person she talked to said AARP had received similar complaints recently.
"I told them they really should put an ad (about the situation) in the AARP magazine," she said.
Mark Hornbeck, media representative for AARP of Michigan in Lansing, said although he hasn't heard about the scam Kinnunen faced, similar scams happen in the state and throughout the country on a regular basis.
"It has happened before," he said. "It isn't us."
Hornbeck said AARP representatives will call individual members when the member knows the call is coming.
"We don't go out and solicit people by telephone," he said.
Hornbeck said the AARP has a Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network. There is also an interactive map, which will indicate where and what kinds of fraud are currently taking place, located at action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/FraudMap.html;jsessionidB46A04FB57E4436262F1E80726C9B138.app262b.
Hornbeck said the Michigan office of AARP is in contact with the Michigan Attorney General's office about scams being conducted using the name of AARP.
The number of scams directed at older people is on the rise in the country, Hornbeck said.
"It's a shame when that kind of stuff happens," he said.
Kinnunen said she contacted the Daily Mining Gazette because she wanted other people to know about the apparent scam.
"I hope nobody else gets taken," she said.