Avoiding Cons, Schemes & Frauds

Older people are prime targets for fraud. We’ve all heard about "pigeon drop" schemes and wondered how anyone could fall for such a con, but remember that these are professionals who have honed their skills over many years and can be very convincing. Keep in mind the adage that "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Never withdraw money from your bank account to give to a stranger, no matter what they promise.

Bank examiners will not come to your home and ask for your help (and withdrawal of money from your account) to "catch a dishonest bank employee". They have much more sophisticated methods to verify theft.

Avoid door-to-door sales. Very few legitimate companies use door-to-door sales unless you have requested a quotation for services.

Never enter contests that require you to put up money to win. Read the small print in notifications that "You are a winner" because there are always stipulations and qualifications that follow.

Cut up or shred offers for credit cards before discarding them. Read the "fine print" of such offers so that you aren't getting a card with higher interest percentages on purchases than on balance transfers, or vice versa. Also beware that late or missed payments can result in changes in the rate of interest originally offered - ranging as high as 25% annually, in some cases.

Keep checkbooks, bank books and canceled checks in a secure place. Don't discard them without first cutting them up or shredding them.

Sign all ID or credit cards immediately upon receipt. Don't put them in your wallet thinking you'll do it later. They are a "blank check" to a career criminal.

Don't write the P.I.N number for your Electronic Fund Transfer account on your checkbook or keep it in your wallet. Make sure it is a number you will remember without prompting.

Be careful of home improvement offers made in person or through the mail. Many of these are swindles - especially if they require "up front" payments before work begins. Ask for and check references from work completed. Review any contracts carefully before signing. Make sure the contract covers the work specified, at the price agreed to, and any warranties or guarantees promised. Contracts should include start and finish dates, and contractors should have proof of insurance coverage. Pay only upon completion of satisfactory work.

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