NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Scams, Scams, Scams

Scams, Scams, Scams

          There is no written record of when the first scam to separate people from their money happened but we do know that many scams come and go and come back and come back.  Elderly individuals are especially susceptible to scams. Why are the elderly more susceptible and more likely to become victims of a scam? The elderly are vulnerable to scams because they tend to be too trusting, gullible, live alone and don't have someone watching over their finances. Loneliness also plays a role. Elders are often grateful to have someone to talk to – not suspecting that the "nice man" on the phone may be preying on them.

          Many of us have a parent, friend or neighbor who would benefit from a friendly reminder that seniors are prime targets for scam artists. There are steps we can take to identify red flags for the elderly and to help protect them from scam artists and fraud.

          Have conversations about financial decisions. This is not the same as making the actual decision or becoming the only one who signs checks but knowing where your elderly parent is coming from on making their financial decisions can give clues as their susceptibility to a scam.

          Remind them to not give out personal banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers to someone who has called. Financial institutions, Medicare, Medicaid, and the IRS do not call individuals to verify what is on file.  The actual agency already has that info on file and does not need to verify it- only scammers use that line.

          Talk about what the word “free” means. If a prize/lottery/sweepstakes is free, taxes or shipping fees do not need to be paid.  Paying to receive a prize is a red flag that a scam artist is involved – especially if the amount “due” needs to be paid immediately.

          Remind them to do business locally. Never to hire someone who shows up at their door with an “extra” window, roofing material, driveway sealant. If the door-to-door salesman is telling them their plumbing needs fixed, or the roof needs repaired without ever doing a home inspection, the scammer may take money, but never do the work. If the person says you have to take the offer immediately or you will miss the opportunity, it is likely a scam. Legitimate companies do not pressure people to act without taking the time to look into the deal. If a salesperson will not provide written information about his or her company--including the company's name, address and telephone, do not do business with them.

          Assist them in placing their phone number on the National Do Not Call registry by phoning 1.888.382.1222 or visiting www.donotcall.gov .  This will help to limit phone calls from telemarketers.

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