Senior Citizens and Scams

The FBI says senior citizens make appealing scam victims because they typically have a nest egg, own their home and have good credit. They grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, they tend to be polite and trusting and unlikely to slam down the telephone.

They’re also reluctant to report a fraud because relatives may already think they can’t handle their own financial affairs.

Here are some warnings for seniors:

  • Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, bogus items, low-cost vitamins, health care products and inexpensive vacations. Hang up immediately if you hear, “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good” or “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize, but you have to pay for postage and handling or other charges.”
  • Don’t buy from telemarketers or Internet solicitors from an unfamiliar company.  Don’t pay in advance for services. Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
  • Do not buy prescription drugs from unlicensed online distributors or those that sell medications without a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States.
  • Watch out for “secret formulas” or “breakthroughs” in anti-aging products, and other products that claim to cure a wide variety of illnesses, particularly those that don’t appear to be related. Ask questions. Contact the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements for a reverse mortgage. Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.

These are just a few warnings. Remember, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.”

The above information was taken from an article in the Kansas City Star, written by, Donald Bradley, dbradley@kcstar.com.

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