BBB Warning of Top 10 Seniors Scams

BBB Warning of Top 10 Seniors Scams

SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 – CALGARY, ALBERTA – September 10 was National Grandparents Day and while Canadians are taking time to recognize and celebrate senior citizens for their family and community contributions, BBB says it’s also a time to protect seniors. With seniors often being the target of scammers, BBB is educating the elderly about how to avoid potential pitfalls of too-good-to-be-true deals.

“Better Business Bureau is proud to pay tribute to seniors, and thank them for the valuable contributions they continue to make in our families, workplaces and communities,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “National Grandparents Day is an opportunity to remind seniors that BBB is a voice of trust in a sometimes dishonest marketplace, and we are here to educate seniors as well as people of all ages about common scams.”

BBB presents the Top 10 Seniors Scams and how savvy seniors can avoid them:

Scam Scam Description How to avoid it
1.    Grandparent Scammers pretending to be grandchildren contact seniors claiming to be in trouble and in need of immediate financial assistance. Check with family to ensure your grandchildren are safe. Never wire money to someone until you’ve confirmed their identity.
2.   Funeral Unscrupulous funeral home owners will take advantage of people in their time of grief and vastly overcharge for caskets, services or unnecessary items while the victim is vulnerable. Plan and pay for your funeral in advance – but do your research and bring a friend with you.
3.   Bereavement Scammers scour the obituaries and contact victims who recently lost a loved-one claiming the deceased had unpaid bills or debts that must be paid right away. Arrange to have a trusted family member or friend handle all financial matters in the days following the loss of a loved one.
4.  Sweetheart While romancing the victim and earning their trust, the scammer may gain access to personal and financial information. When the scam is over, the victim is left broke and broken-hearted. Keep your personal and financial documents locked at home in a safe place – do not carry them with you and do not share them with anyone. Avoid making rash, emotional decisions.
5.   Affinity fraud Fraudsters use groups of friends, colleagues, religious groups, ethnic groups or other people who inherently trust one another to build support for the next “great investment.” This investment turns out to be a fraud and leaves a trail of broken relationships and bank accounts behind. Never accept a verbal agreement and never sign a document before reading it carefully.
6.  Door-to-door/telemarketer Aggressive sales people use high-pressure sales tactics to intimidate seniors into buying things they don’t need. If you’re at the door or on the phone with a high-pressure sales person and you’re uncomfortable – hang up or close the door. If you feel threatened, call the police.
7.   Fly-by-night contractor The scammer approaches the homeowner saying they noticed their roof (or some other feature) needs repair and that, since they’re in the area, they can give the homeowner a great deal if they give a deposit today. After taking the deposit, the scammer disappears along with the homeowner’s money. When hiring a contractor to work on your home, get three written estimates, check references and research your rights regarding contracts and cooling-off periods.
8.   Inheritance scam A fraudster contacts victims out of the blue posing as a lawyer, banker or official to announce they are the beneficiary of a wealthy distant relative who has died overseas. There is a fee to claim the large inheritance. Once the victim wires the fee, the scammer disappears. Check with family and relatives to confirm that a loved one has in fact passed and left an inheritance. Also check with your own lawyer before proceeding.
9.  Employment scam Victims find a too-good-to-be-true opportunity to make thousands of dollars working from home. The scammer then instructs the new employee to send money up-front for supplies, admin fees, etc. and then disappears leaving the victim with no job and a thinner wallet. If you receive an unsolicited phone call, ask for a number to call them back and confirm they are who they say they are before returning the call. Ask a trusted friend, loved one or contact BBB to help you research the company and the job offer.
10.Charity scam Often in the wake of a catastrophe like a hurricane, flood or terrorist act, scammers will set up “relief funds” to help survivors and solicit donations from victims. The gift goes right into the scammer’s pocket and both the victims of the scam and of the catastrophe have lost their money. Ensure your donations go only to recognized charities registered with Revenue Canada.

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