It seems every night when we watch the news there is a new victim of a con artists games. How do we equip ourselves with the tools to avoid falling victim to a scam? The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is” is a good start. Unfortunately we need to verify offers as best we can these days before committing to a vendor. Here are some scams to be aware of, and some tips to prevent falling victim to them.
The Home Repair Person. A common tactic is to offer a “free” inspection. The person then provides advice on major repair work that is allegedly required…and can be done with some cash in advance. In cases like this it’s important to proceed with extreme caution. Never be convinced to give cash in advance. Always take the time to ask and check references. Obtain a written estimate and a contract of the work to be completed and a completion date. You can check with credentials with 3rd party agencies like the Better Business Bureau or Ministry or Consumer Affairs. Getting multiple quotes is a good way of informing yourself about the task at hand. Remember, the best price is often not the best value.
The Service Person. This person often tries to enter a home on the premise of trying to check your phone line or gas line etc. Be very careful about opening your door to strangers, and we advise never letting a stranger into your home for an appointment you did not initiate. Most legitimate companies will call ahead to make appointments and provide the proper call back information and identification.
Telephone Fraud. The caller will portray themselves as a Police Officer and ask you for a donation or to assist in catching a criminal by withdrawing your cash. NO police department will call you to make a request like this. Others call making an offer that is too good to refuse, but you must provide cash or a credit card number in advance. Never buy sight unseen, unsolicited items or services over the phone.
The Free Prize / Trip scam. You receive a call or letter congratulating you for winning a boat, car or vacation. In order to receive it you must provide a credit card to pay the tax or shipping / admin fees. Do not fall for this. Legitimate contests never require you to pay any money to claim a prize.
Medical Fraud. Seniors are often the target for alleged “good deals” on health or medical items. All the precautions apply here, if it sounds to good to be true, it likely is. Check with a legitimate doctor or health care professional before enrolling in any offers.
Whenever we are approached by anyone with an unsolicited offer a red flag should be going up! No matter how enticing the offer or pitch may sound, we must always try to do our own due diligence to insure we are not part of the latest scam. If you discover you have been victimized, ask for help. Call the Police or Ministry of Consumer Affairs as soon as possible to report the fraud.