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Avoiding Fraud Against Seniors

By Kim Boyer

Fraud is on the rise in America, and seniors are among the prime targets of con artists. Seniors account for 26% of all mail fraud victims, but their representation increases dramatically in certain categories, such as prizes and sweepstakes, where seniors account for 60% of victims.

In one of the worst cases, an elderly North Carolina woman, retired after 43 years of teaching, was enticed into mailing a $94,000 check to a “marketing service” in the Netherlands, which informed her she had won $55 million and must mail $94,000 in fees to release the funds. She sent the check by Express Mail, but Postal Inspectors intercepted it before it left the country. Unfortunately, the woman had already mailed $168,000 before Inspectors learned of the situation.

Now the Chief Postal Inspector has joined with actress Betty White to warn senior citizens, their families, and their caregivers about fraud. The nationwide campaign will explain to seniors that they should be skeptical of any offer that sounds “too good to be true.” In general, seniors can avoid being the victims of fraud by following these simple tips:

  • Take your time. If you are pressured to make a quick decision, provide credit card information, or mail a check, HANG UP. It’s not rude; it’s wise.
  • Don’t buy something just because you’ll get a free gift.
  • Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
  • Check the caller’s record with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Don’t give your credit card or account numbers to anyone unfamiliar without checking them out.
  • NEVER send money in response to a foreign lottery. They’re illegal.

This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney.

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