Being a senior citizen should be a time to relax and enjoy the efforts of a lifetime of hard work. Unfortunately, there are those who prey upon the elderly with a variety of schemes that need to be recognized for what they are, and appropriately handled. Seniors are potential victims of all the crimes other groups are, but should pay particular attention to the following:
Home repair schemes and frauds:
- Beware of anyone soliciting work to be done to your home, if you haven't called for it already. There are unscrupulous persons posing as contractors, selling repairs that are overpriced, unnecessary, and that can actually damage your home.
- Find a trusted friend, or neighbor, to help you figure out what work your home might need, and only employ a licensed and reputable contractor to do it.
- NEVER SIGN a contract for home repair unless you have read and understand all of it. Get help from a trusted friend if you need to.
- If you feel as if you have been cheated, call your attorney, the State Contractor's License Board, or the police.
- If anyone threatens to take your house away if you don't pay them, call your attorney or the police immediately.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Beware of telephone or mail solicitation of money for investments, regardless of how official it may look. Official-looking call back numbers and mailing addresses can be shams and hoaxes. Your name, telephone number, and address can be gotten to make the call or letter sound official and genuine. Consult with your bankers or brokers for investment advice, and trust your professionals.
- Be especially aware of anyone who meets you on the street and offers to make you rich if you will participate with them by putting up some of your money. No honest people do that, and you are about to be victimized.
- No bank examiners ever call depositors, for any reason.
- Never give up personal information to people you don't know.
- Never send checks to people you don't know.
- Never give out blank checks, deposit slips, or account information to anyone you don't know. Your financial assets are YOUR business only.
- NEVER give your ATM card and code to anyone you don't completely trust.
- SIGN NOTHING unless you have read and understand all of it.
- NEVER SIGN a document you don't completely and fully understand. Call your attorney, accountant, banker, broker, or a trusted friend for advice.
- ANY legitimate offer of anything can wait until the next day, or until you can check with a trusted advisor.
- NEVER let anyone bully, threaten, or intimidate you into doing or signing anything you don't fully understand. Tell them to wait until you consult with your attorney, then hang up, or close the door.
- Have Social Security, Pension, and Investment checks directly deposited.
- Try to go shopping with a friend.
- Take out only the cash you need.
- If anyone becomes rude, threatening, or abusive to you for any reason, call the police immediately at 9-1-1. We will come out and deal with it.