Tips To Prevent Senior Scams
There is a ring at the front door and you answer. A kind-hearted gentleman informs you that he has just fixed your neighbors roof and he has a lot of material left over. He tells you that your roof is in bad shape and there is a bad storm brewing. He says that your house could get damaged and cost you thousands if you dont act now. In fact, he will give you a special rate if you pay up front in cash. You dont want to have a leaky roof and you cant pass up such a great deal. You agree to have your roof fixed and hand over a large sum of money on the spot. You later find out that nothing is wrong with your roof and you have just been swindled out of thousands of dollars.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you may be one of the 25 million Americans that were victims of fraud last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Seniors are one of the top targets for a wide variety of scams. In fact, seniors make up 11% of the U.S. population, but constitute 30% of consumer fraud and 50% of all phone scam victims.
Below are two of the most common acts of fraud targeted toward seniors and steps on how seniors can protect themselves from these scams.
While telemarketers call people of all ages, backgrounds and incomes, they often make up to 80% of their calls to older consumers (according to the AARP). Their sales pitches are sophisticated and include phony prizes, illegitimate sweepstakes, fake charities, and bogus investments.
Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
If you have doubts about a telemarketers legitimacy, be sure to ask for their companys name and address, along with a phone number where they can be reached at a later time.
Talk to family and friends or call your lawyer, accountant or banker and get their advice before you make any large purchase or investment over the phone with a stranger.
Dont forget the power to simply hang up the phone when a stranger calls trying to sell you something you dont want.
Home improvement contractors use several methods of targeting seniors high pressure phone calls, flyers, advertisements, and door-to-door-sales. While most contracted home repairs are completed satisfactorily, fraudulent contractors can be very effective in making people think their services are needed, and then defrauding their victims.
Use a local well-established contractor. Ask for references and check with customers to find out if they were satisfied.
Get competitive bids on all work and be wary of any bids that seem too good to be true. Dont accept high-pressure offers or offers that force you to make a quick decision.
Make sure the project is explicitly described in your contract, including materials and labor specifics and dates for estimated start and completion.
Never say yes to someone who wants money up front before the job is done or wants you to withdraw a large amount of money from your bank.
If you are a senior or know a senior that has been a victim of fraud, be sure to report the act immediately. You can contact the following agency for more information Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov or 877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
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