The director of Utah's Division of Consumer Protection said she doesn't think much of Attorney General Jan Graham's latest telephone fraud prevention program.
"I think it's the stupidest program I've ever heard of," said Francine Giani.She said using the phone to warn senior citizens and others susceptible to telephone scams will only cause more problems.
"To call them and say not to talk to people who call them . . . it is going to confuse them further," she said.
Palmer DePaulis, spokesman for the attorney general, dis-a-greed.
"It's been highly effective," he said, noting that it has been successful in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and other states.
Graham announced Operation Fighting Fone Fraud on Sept. 2. She described it as using "the crooks' own methods against them."
More than 80 volunteers were to call thousands of Utah consumers whose names appear on telemarketing lists, according to a news release from Graham's office.
They warn at-risk consumers about telephone fraud ploys, including illegal sweepstakes, phony prizes, sham investments, long distance service offers and nonexistent charities.
In addition, volunteers provide potential victims with information about how they can develop a network of consumers who will report fraudulent calls.
"We believe an educated consumer can smell a rat - even over the phone lines," said Ted Smith, US WEST vice president for Utah, in the news release.
US WEST, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the American Association of Retired Persons and telemarketing firm Convergys Corp. helped with the program.
Giani said she was not contacted by the attorney general about the program, even though her office handles telephone fraud investigations every day.
A day after Graham unveiled the program at a news conference, Giani said her office received numerous calls with questions about the program. She said the callers were confused and didn't understand what the program was about.
"I think the program is a mistake," she said. "Don't barrage them with phone calls."