Magazine article Work & Family Life

Some Common Scams for Seniors to Watch out For

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Some Common Scams for Seniors to Watch out For

Article excerpt

Those get-rich-at-home schemes we talked about last year are by no means the only scam out there preying on older people especially. Telemarketing fraud is a multibillion-dollar business and identity theft is now the number one consumer fraud complaint, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But knowledge is power and learning about the common swindles can go a long way toward helping you or your older relative avoid becoming a victim. Here are a few to watch out for:

* SHAM TAX FORMS. Phony forms that appear to be from banks or the 1RS will request personal information such as marital status, date of birth, your mother's maiden name, PIN numbers and bank account numbers. The fake forms look similar to legitimate 1RS Forms. The tip-off is the request for personal information. No 1RS form requires such information.

* TRAVEL FRAUD. I'll bet that you, like me, have "won" a free or ridiculously low-cost vacation. With these deals, the old adage applies: If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. To receive the "fantastic" trip, there will generally be hidden charges, conditions and additional fees. Do not fall prey to high-pressure sales tactics. These companies are particularly hard to check out because they often change their names.

* PHONY PRIZKS. Typically you will be required to buy something in order to claim your prize. Or you may be told that you must first pay the income tax on the prize. The 1RS does not work that way. Under no circumstances should you make a "tax payment" to a company providing a prize.

* 1RS IMPERSONATORS. If someone comes to your home claiming that he or she is from the 1RS coming to collect your taxes, do not open your door to this person. As a rule, the 1RS does not make house calls.

* CREDIT CARD PROTECTION. This is a popular Internet and telemarketing scam that involves the sale of unnecessary services based on blatent misrepresentation of the facts. Your credit card liability for unauthorized charges is generally limited to $50 and, in most instances, is zero. The FTC's Operation Protection Deception investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of such frauds.

* SOCIAL secURITY REFUNDS. Swindlers tell seniors that they can get back all of their Social security tax payments for a small "claim processing fee" of about $100 and a percentage of the refund. Victims pay the fee and wait for a refund that never comes. …

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