8 May 11

Senior citizens are a popular target for scam artists because of a perception they can be easily manipulated. These criminals might walk up to you on the street, knock on your door, or contact you by mail, phone or over the internet.

They may offer you something at a bargain price or do a repair job on your roof or driveway. Some may try to get personal information from you over the phone or internet.  The goal is to separate you from your money. These people are intimidating and will not hesitate to do what is necessary to accomplish their goal.

Scam artists usually want something up front. If you pay, chances are excellent that the job will be done poorly or unfinished and they will be gone. So will your money. And home repair scammers often won’t have marked trucks, ID, business address or phone number.

Here is a basic rule you should learn. If someone contacts you and has an offer you can’t resist (too good to be true) or tries to sell you a product or service that you don’t need, end the conversation quickly. Don’t let them in. Be firm but polite. Keep the door locked.

On another note, city and county workers wear distinctive uniforms and have identification, but sometimes so do the criminals. Remember, there is no reason for any utility worker to enter your home unless you made an appointment with the public works.

If someone at your door gets belligerent and demands entry or tries to enter, call 911. You are justified because they have demonstrated intent , opportunity, and most likely, capability to commit a crime.  And senior citizens are almost always at a physical disadvantage. That means you can use anything available to defend yourself, including  deadly force if you are in fear for your life.

If a person on the phone tries to interest you in something you have no intention of buying, tell them so and that you are on the no call list and to please don’t call again. Anyone can get on the National Do Not Call Registry by phone, toll-free at 1-888-382-1222 or on the internet here.

The Federal Trade Commission has a website to help you deal with telephone scams at this site.

If you have a friend or relative who might be subject to these kinds of crimes, sit down with them and talk about ways to handle these situations. The way to avoid most ripoffs is to deal with reputable businesses and people who can stand up to scrutiny by the consumer.

For those who spend a lot of time on the internet this site will illustrate some common internet frauds that target you.

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