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Marathon County seniors accidentally directed to scam in phone number mix-up

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 2:49 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin said an incorrect phone number was provided for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The number provided was a scam phone number for a fake grocery program.

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program’s correct number is 888-486-9545. The program is new to Marathon County and can provide much-needed access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from local farmers’ markets.

“When you call that wrong number, they’re going to ask for your credit card number and because the seniors’ farmers’ market program is a free program to eligible seniors, we would never ask for that information,” the ADRC-CW’s communication manager, Angela Hansen said.

She explained she was alerted to the typo after a few interested people tried calling the incorrect number and thought it was questionable. Hansen said she immediately published corrections and began looking into what number she sent individuals.

“I called the number and they would not identify themselves as to what kind of business,” she recalled. “I really thought that if they were a reputable business that they would just redirect our customers to the correct telephone number, but they did not do that and the more I pressed for the name of a company, they would hang up on me.”

The ADRC-CW has reported the number to the FTC as a scam.

The farmers’ market program is made possible through money from the US Department of Agriculture and is already available in Langlade, Lincoln, and Wood counties. It is now available for eligible individuals in Marathon County as well.

Eligible individuals receive $25 worth of vouchers to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs at approved farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

“Often, older adults might have financial restrains or even the ability to get to a farmers market to purchase the Wisconsin-grown fresh produce and so this gives them the dollars to do that, $25 free dollars basically,” Ronda James, the ADRC-CW nutrition program director stated.

Eligibilities requires individuals to meet all of the following requirements:

- A resident of Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, or Wood counties;

- Is age 60 or older, or 55 or older for Native American individuals;

- And meets the monthly household income threshold:

- One-person household $1,986

- Two-person household $2,686

- Three-person household $3,386

- Four-person household $4,086

The phone number is the best way to begin an application for the program. Hansen said people will know they have the right number if the person on the other end of the line identifies themselves as working for the ADRC. They will not ask for any credit card information.

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