FRIDAY, JULY 6: Senior citizens are common targets for con artists and fall prey in large numbers to scams involving high-pressure tactics.
Here are a few quick tips you should observe to avoid being taken by any of these fraudulent schemes:
- Do not hire at the door. Do not hire a tradesperson to work on your house or yard without a contract stipulating the terms of work, in detail and verifying the person’s contact details. Make sure their contact details include an actual address, not PO Box, and more than one contact number. Also ask for referrals and references.
- Ask for identification from any delivery or service provider who comes to your house and do not leave a service person alone in your home. If a service person makes an unscheduled visit, call the company to verify the legitimacy of the visit.
- Do not give cash to a tradesperson before the project is underway- and even then pay in instalments as the work is completed. Do not carry large amounts of cash anywhere or have large amounts of cash in your home.
- Look out for get-rich-quick schemes, “free” offers, or “you have won” solicitations. If you didn’t enter a contest to win anything you can’t win. These scams are getting more and more popular. Email phishing schemes and pyramid schemes are also on the rise in Bermuda. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Wait 24 hours before making a purchase; there is no need to rush. An offer from a reputable source will remain available from one day to the next. Ask for written information about the business, goods or services to review. If they refuse to leave or make you feel threatened, call the police.
- Get a second opinion; consult with someone you trust before making important financial decisions. Your banker, lawyer or representatives of Age Concern are a good resource to consider for this.
- Never reveal your “vital numbers” such as credit cards phone cards, date of birth and social insurance numbers or your personal identification numbers (PIN) for automated teller machine (ATM) transactions to verify a contest prize, low-cost vacation or other prize offer.
- Be wary of street vendors selling products directed at seniors such as herbal products, medical gadgets and remedies. Oftentimes these products are unsafe if you have certain health problems or are taking prescription medicine.
- If considering giving to a charity, ask for the charity’s registration number and call the Centre on Philanthropy (292-5320) for a list of registered charities.
Remember, when you are making financial decisions use your head and not your heart. Separate your emotions and base any decision on solid credible information that you have researched thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to get assistance from someone you know that is credible and can help you make a decision. If you think you have been victimized by a fraud scheme or you know of a con game that is targeting your friends or neighbours, please call the police immediately.
For more information visit our website, www.ca.gov.bm.
Honey Adams is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.