NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Senior Fraud

Senior Fraud


          Many legitimate companies and charities solicit consumers by phone and have found it to be an effective way to raise money or increase company business. Consumers appreciated having their questions about a charity answered quickly and avoiding any more brochures stuffing their mailboxes. Unfortunately, telephone callers are simply up to no good.

          According to the FTC, nearly 25 million Americans are victims of consumer fraud each year. Senior citizens continue to be a rapidly increasing segment of the population, and that makes them a prime target for con artists and thieves. Americans who are 65 or older represent about 13 percent of our country’s population, and their population will only continue to grow as the Baby Boomer generation begins to enter that age range.

          A multitude of studies have shown that senior citizens are more at risk to be targeted by telemarketing scams than other age groups, and fraudulent telemarketers direct anywhere from 56 to 80 percent of their calls at older Americans. These con artists believe that senior citizens are vulnerable and more susceptible to their tricks.  To avoid being a consumer scam statistic keep these tips in mind:

          Offers too good to be true usually are. Ask to receive the “unbelievable deal” or the “amazing prize offer” in writing so you can read it carefully before making a commitment.

          Never give out your personal information over the phone or Internet unless you have initiated the contact. Legitimate business callers will never ask you for this information over the phone.

          If a caller asks you to pay for an offer in advance or asks for your credit card number or Social Security number, tell the person you don’t give out personal information over the telephone and hang up immediately.

          If you decide the caller represents an organization you do not wish to support, request that your name and phone number be removed from their calling list.  You do not need to complete a form, take to a supervisor or write a letter – your verbal request is sufficient. 

          Remember that legitimate telemarketers won’t be turned off if you use these techniques. They will appreciate dealing with an educated consumer. It’s not rude – it’s shrewd!


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