Older people may be victims of frauds like con games and insurance, home repair, telephone, or internet scams. Even “trusted” friends or family members have been known to steal an older person’s money or property. The following tips may help:
Don’t be afraid to hang up on telephone salespeople. You aren’t being impolite. You are taking care of yourself! Remember, you can say no to any offer.
Don’t give any personal information, including your credit card number or bank account, over the phone unless you were the one who made the call.
Don’t take money from your bank account if a stranger tells you to. In one common swindle, a thief pretends to be a bank employee and asks you to take out money to “test” a bank teller. Banks do not check their employees this way.
Don’t be fooled by deals that seem too good to be true. They are often rip-offs. Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise you more money later. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to get more information about the record of any company before doing business with them.
Do be on guard about hiring people who come door-to-door looking for home repair work. They may not be trained to do the work, and they may overcharge you. You should try to check their references. Always spell out the details of the work you want done in writing. Never pay for the whole job in advance.
Avoid Identity Theft
How can someone steal your identity? Using your name, Social Security number, or credit card without your okay is called identity theft and it’s a serious crime. Be sure to protect yourself:
Do keep information about your checking account private. Put all new and cancelled checks in a safe place, report any stolen checks right away, and carefully look at your monthly bank account statement.
Do shred everything that has personal information about you written on it.
Do be very careful when buying things online. Websites without security may not protect your credit card or bank account information. Look for information saying that a website has a secure server before buying anything online.
Do check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to find out how to protect yourself from common online scams that can trick you into revealing your personal or financial information.