As America’s senior population grows, so does the number of people who target seniors for financial abuse.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO AVOID FRAUD
· Shred bills, junk mail and receipts before discarding
· Find a private place to record account codes and passwords. Don’t forget where you filed them!
· If someone offers you a “now or never” opportunity, choose “never.”
· Charities never require you to “act immediately.”
· If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
· Don’t be afraid to tell someone. If you are uncomfortable, the sooner you tell someone, the better.
· Ask for information in writing.
· If you receive a solicitation to support police or firefighters, contact your local police or fire department to find out what percentage, if any, of the donations they will receive.
· Be very cautious after disasters. Check with the State charities regulator or Better Business Bureau before giving.
· Most national charities can be verified at www.give.org which is the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving arm.
· Choose only government approved Medicare drug discount cards. For a list of companies approved to issue the cards and more information about the program, see www.medicare.gov or call toll-free (800) 633-4277.
· Know your medications. Know the packaging, size, shape, color, taste, and side effects of the prescriptions you take and immediately contact your doctor if you notice anything different.
PRIZES AND SWEEPSTATES SCAMS
· Do not pay to play. It is illegal for a company to suggest or require you to buy something or pay a fee in order to win or claim a prize.
· You do not have to pay any money to a company for taxes on a prize you have won. Taxes will be deducted from your winnings or you will pay them directly to the appropriate government agency.
· Get details in writing.
· Don’t be fooled by official-looking mail. Look for a bulk mail postage mark-your clue that thousands of people received the same thing.
· Be especially cautious with foreign sweepstakes.
It is easy and free to sign up for the National “Do Not Call” registry. Register online at www.donotcall.gov or call the Registry at (888)382-1222.
Charities, nonprofit groups, political organizations and survey companies don’t have to use the national Do Not Call list. If you have done business with a company within the past 18 months, or asked about a product or filled out an application within the past 3 months, the company may call you. However, you have the right to tell them not to call you again, and they must honor your request.
Some of the tell-tale signs of predatory lending are:
· Excessive fees. On competitive loans, fees of 1% or lower are typical. Ask for a good-faith estimate. Watch out for unnecessary insurance or other products that may be tacked on to the loan.
· Prepayment Penalties. Even legitimate lenders sometimes charge these fees, but you should shop around (with referrals from trusted sources) to see if you can get a better quote.
For more information, call Vicki Stanton at 714/809-5787, or click to email.
Information in this article was gathered from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, www.stopseniorscams.org, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and is subject to change. For more information, refer to the websites listed in this article, or talk with your local district attorney’s office.