According to the National Council on Aging, financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” The Council on Aging is committed to helping seniors look out for these devastating scams.
Scammers use a variety of tactics to make their offers seem legitimate. Their initial contact usually occurs by telephone, letters, door-to-door solicitations, flyers, e-mails and phony Web sites. They often try to convince consumers to send them money or give personal information, such as bank account numbers and Social Security numbers. The Ohio Attorney General advises seniors to look out for the common signs of a scam:
Signs of a Scam:
- You’ve won a contest you’ve never heard of.
- You’re pressured to “act now!”
- You have to pay a fee to receive your “prize.”
- Your personal information is requested.
- A large down-payment is requested.
- The company refuses to provide written information.
- The company has no physical address, only a P.O. Box.
- They insist you pay in cash.
The Ohio Attorney General Recommends:
Stay informed about the latest and most common consumer scams.
Research Businesses and Charities
Before doing business with a company, check its reputation with the Ohio Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. You also should ask family and friends for recommendations of businesses and charities. Never do business with a company that refuses to give you information in writing or one that refuses to give you a phone number, a physical address, or references. Check with the Ohio Secretary of State to make sure a company is registered as a business in Ohio.
Read the Fine Print
Read all the terms and conditions of any agreement before you sign. Look for exclusions. Always get warranties in writing. Review contracts with a trusted attorney, friend or family member. Monitor your financial accounts. If a fraudulent charge appears on your bank statement, immediately notify your bank.
Remember Your Rights
Ohio consumer law protects you from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices in consumer transactions. For example, advertisements must list a sale’s exclusions and limitations, and a store must post its return policy, if it has one. In Ohio, it is illegal to charge a fee for a prize. If you’ve actually won something, you won’t need to send any money to get it.
Reconsider The Purchase
Take your time before you make a decision. Never give personal information to someone you don’t know or trust, even in a contest. Ask companies how they will use your personal information and ask them not to sell your information. Don’t give in to high pressure sales tactics. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never sign anything you do not understand. Ask questions and demand answers.
If you have a problem with a purchase you made, notify the company in writing. Explain your complaint, the facts of the situation, the resolution you desire, and give a deadline for the resolution. If you suspect fraud or if you cannot resolve the problem on your own, file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or call 1-800-282-0515.
Top Phone Scams
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has warned consumers about five of the top phone scams reported to his office.
- IRS Imposter Scam – Con artists call pretending to be the IRS.
- Sweepstakes Scam – Consumers receive a call saying they have won an international lottery or sweepstakes prize.
- Grandparent Scam – Scammers pretend to be a grandchild in trouble and call grandparents asking for immediate payment.
- Computer Repair Scam – Consumers receive a call from someone who falsely claims to represent Microsoft or another computer support service.
- Grant Scam – In a typical grant scam, consumers receive a call saying they have won a federal grant worth up to $10,000.
For complete details, visit the Ohio Attorney General’s website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov