|Rocky Hill Police Department
Rocky Hill Police Crime Protection Tips for Senior Citizens
One of the best ways to take an active part in crime prevention is to become more alert and aware of what's going on around you. Each person should adopt a more observant and active attitude on a daily basis. As a result, you become more aware of strange cars, persons or circumstances which might be dangerous and require calling the police. Not every stranger you encounter is a criminal by any means, but criminals will look for easy opportunities to get something of value. The following highlights the most common scams that target seniors, additional information can be found at: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors
Don't Be A Victim Of Fraud
If someone offers a deal that sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Yet every day people get taken in by different schemes.
Con artists defraud and cheat unsuspecting citizens out of several billion dollars each year. The swindler's prime target is the senior citizen. Swindlers see the elderly as easy marks for many reasons. Many senior citizens live on social security and pensions supplemented by savings. They may be looking for ways to increase their incomes through investments, home business opportunities or retirement properties.
Most con artists promise "incredible bargains" or "quick money." Unfortunately, senior citizens are just as vulnerable as everybody else when it comes to get-rich-quick schemes.
Swindlers are usually well-dressed, talkative and intelligent. After all, they are trying to win your confidence.
"Purse snatching" is a common crime, but not widely publicized. Any woman is a target for this offense, even though elderly women seem to be more vulnerable.
You can minimize your chances of becoming a victim of purse snatching by following these simple rules:
- Do not carry a shoulder bag over your shoulder. This makes it easier for a suspect to grab the bag, knock you down and cause bodily injury.
- Carry a small clutch-type handbag underneath your arm. This will prevent bodily injury from occurring in the event of a purse snatch.
- Do not carry large sums of money, valuable jewelry or all of your credit cards in your purse.
- Carry only what you plan to use for the day. This includes one check instead of the whole checkbook or one credit card.
- Do not walk with your purse dangling from your person.
- Do not leave your purse in shopping carts or on counters.
The most frequent areas for purse snatching are bus stops, grocery stores, and shopping center parking lots. The harder you make it, the less likely you are to become a victim of a crime.
Fraud Prevention Tips
It's not always easy to spot con artists. They're smart, extremely persuasive, and aggressive. They invade your home by telephone and mail, advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines, and come to your door. Most people think they're too smart to fall for a scam. But con artists rob all kinds of people - from investment counselors and doctors to teenagers and elderly widows - of billions of dollars every year.
Just remember... if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You Can Protect Yourself!
- Never give a caller your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
- Beware of 900 numbers. People who call 900 numbers to request instant credit often end up with a booklet on how to establish credit or a list of banks offering low-interest credit cards. Such calls can end up costing $50 or more, but consumers rarely end up obtaining credit.
- Listen carefully to the name of a charity requesting money.
- Fraudulent charities often use names that sound like a reputable, well-known organization such as the American Cancer Association (instead of the American Cancer Society).
- Ask for a financial report before you donate; a reputable charity will always send you one.
Investigate before you invest. Never make an investment with a stranger over the phone. Beware of promises that include the terms "get rich quick," or "a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Be a Wise Consumer
- Don't buy health products or treatments that include: a promise for a quick and dramatic cure, testimonials, imprecise and non medical language, appeals to emotion instead of reason, or a single product that cures many ills. Quackery can delay an ill person from getting timely treatment.
- Look closely at offers that come in the mail. Con artists often use official-looking forms and bold graphics to lure victims. If you receive items in the mail that you didn't order, you are under no obligation to pay for them - throw them out, return them, or keep them.
- Be suspicious of ads that promise quick cash working from your home. After you've paid for the supplies or a how-to book to get started, you often find there's no market for the product and there's no way to get your money back.
- Beware of cheap home repair work that would otherwise be expensive, regardless of the reason given. The con artist may just do part of the work, use shoddy materials and untrained workers, or simply take your deposit and never return.
- Use common sense in dealing with auto repairs. One mechanic convinced a woman that she needed to have the winter air in tires replaced with summer air! Get a written estimate, read it carefully, and never give the repair shop a blank check to "fix everything."
Some Classic Cons
Although con artists come up with new scams as times change, some classic scams never go out of style.
The Bank Examiner : Someone posing as a bank official or government agent asks for your help (in person or via the telephone) to catch a dishonest teller. You are to withdraw money from your account and turn it over to him or her so the serial numbers can be checked or the money marked. You do, and never see your money again.
The Pigeon Drop: A couple of strangers tell you they've found a large sum of money or other valuables. They say they'll split their good fortune with you if everyone involved will put up some "good faith" money. You turn over your cash, and you never see your money or the strangers again.
The Pyramid Scheme: Someone offers you a chance to invest in a up-and-coming company with a guaranteed high return. The idea is that you invest and ask others to do the same. You get a share of each investment you recruit. They recruit others, and so on. When the pyramid collapses (either the pool of new investors dries up or the swindler is caught), everyone loses - except the person at the top.
Telemarketing Scams and What to Look For
Many legitimate companies sell their products or services through telemarketing by either calling consumers or advertising a number for consumers to call. Charities also use telemarketing techniques; unfortunately fraudulent telemarketers rob people every day, using phones as their weapons.
- Know who you’re dealing with: If the company or charity is unfamiliar, check it out with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.
- Be aware that "no complaint" is no guarantee: Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn't mean that the company or charity is legitimate. You still need to look for other danger signs of fraud.
- Don’t believe promises of easy money: If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. One should always remember that an offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.
- Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies: Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.
- Never pay to play: It’s illegal for a company to require you to buy something or pay a fee in order to win or claim a prize. Buying something doesn’t improve your chances of winning.
- Resist pressure:. Legitimate companies will be happy to send you detailed information and give you time to make a decision. It is probably a scam if the marketer demands that you act immediately or will not take "No" for an answer.
- Guard your personal information: Only provide your credit card or bank account number when you are actually paying for something. Do not give your social security number to a telemarketer.
How To Protect Yourself From Telemarketing Fraud
Your best protection is to just hang up the phone. If you think that is rude, tell these callers politely that you are not interested, don't want to waste their time, and please don't call back - and then hang up. If you find yourself caught up in a sales pitch, remember the federal government's Telemarketing Sales Rules:
You have to be told the name of the company, the fact that it is a sales call, and what's being sold. If a prize is being offered, you have to be told immediately that there is no purchase necessary to win.
1. If the caller says you've won a prize, you cannot be asked to pay anything for it. You can't even be required to pay shipping charges. If it is a sweepstakes, the caller must tell you how to enter without making a purchase.
2. You cannot be asked to pay in advance for services such as cleansing your credit record, finding you a loan, acquiring a prize they say you've won. You pay for services only if they're actually delivered.
3. You shouldn't be called before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If you tell telemarketers not to call again, they can't. If they do, they have broken the law.
4. If you're guaranteed a refund, the caller has to tell you all the limitations.
5. And remember, don't give telemarketers your credit card number, your bank account number, Social Security number - or authorize bank drafts - ever.
If Someone Rips You Off
- Report con games to the police, your city or state consumer protection office, district attorney's office, or a consumer advocacy group.
- If you suspect fraud, call the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.
- Don't feel foolish. Reporting is vital. Very few frauds are reported, which leaves the con artists free to rob other people of their money - and their trust.
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