We’ve had a real rash of frauds lately targeting a number of seniors in our area. It’s not necessarily that seniors are more naive than other generations, it is often a combination of being more trusting, being targeted at an accelerated rate by those seeking to scam money out of someone and how easy it is to begin to second guess yourself when the rest of society views you as likely confused or forgetful.
Other reasons why seniors are often targeted by con artists include:
- Seniors often live alone.
- Seniors may have more savings.
- Seniors are generally more trusting than younger people.
The following are a list of suggestions that you might find helpful when it comes to protecting yourself from those who want to take advantage of you!
How to Protect Yourself from Fraud:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I know, old cliché but it really is true. Most of these deals seem very ‘safe’ or low-risk on the surface but they are always geared to achieve one goal – part you from your money and make them very rich, usually quickly in the process.
Avoid “get rich” schemes and free prizes! Sometimes ‘get rich’ schemes are not necessarily after your money – that’s part of what makes them seem like it’s safe to try – they are often after your information. In today’s world of electronic money transfers and online accounts, scam artists don’t necessarily need your cheque with your signature, they just need things like your name, address, birthday and other small pieces of personal information.
Don’t rush into agreements with your money or property. If the company or the contractor is legitimate, they will gladly give you time to go over the contract, ask questions, get a second opinion, compare prices (and many companies will try to price match if you think you found something better). The minute someone starts saying that you have to sign something RIGHT NOW, hang up the phone, close the front door or click the little x in the top right corner of the web page on your computer. You never have to do something RIGHT NOW.
Do not be pressured by door to door or telephone salespeople to buy items you don’t need or want. Often they will try to befriend you as part of their sales pitch. There are reasons for this. Once you are friendly with someone and have learned a bit about them (poor struggling student? sick children at home? wife hurt?) it is much harder to say no. Especially if there is any kind of ‘hard-luck’ story. Unless you know the person or organization personally and are doing something to help out, you are not obligated and are very likely getting scammed. Do not let them in, simply say no thank you and shut the door.
If people call or come to your door saying they represent a utility service like hydro or gas, be very careful. This has been a real problem for a lot of people. It is almost impossible to know if the company is legitimate when they show up. Don’t sign anything until you verify with someone you trust. Do not let them in your house, they might be thieves looking to take items (your purse sitting on the counter for instance).
Never give out large amounts of cash to anyone no matter how good the offer may sound.
Be extra careful about giving anyone your Social Insurance Number. If you are doing business with a known company or organization that you have done business with before, then chances are pretty good that you are engaged in something legitimate. Otherwise, double-check before you give it out.
Never give out banking, credit card or personal information over the phone or on the Internet, unless you are sure you are dealing with an honest organization. Even then, some folks are very good at pretending to be an organization you know and trust. Banks never email you to say your account has been compromised and you have to give them information to resolve the problem. Same with Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have doubts about a caller, simply hang up. It’s not rude, it’s smart! Report suspicious offers to your local police station immediately. It’s not always easy to spot a scam, and new ones are invented every day. Chances are, there are a number of people who are being targeted in your area at the same time. If police get a number of phone calls, they can put out an ‘alert’ to warn others about what is happening.
If you suspect you may be a target of a fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don’t be embarrassed, you are not alone.
For more information, please visit; Identity Theft and Identity Fraud Victim Assistance Guide