Stopping scams: How to recognize and avoid getting ripped off

Scam artists are targeting older people more than ever, making off with huge amounts of money. Consumer Reports has investigated fraud against seniors and interviewed victim after victim. Some fall for IRS imposters claiming they owe money. Others are fooled by bogus promises of big prizes or mail notifications of a huge sweepstake win.

And then there are people defrauded by unscrupulous financial advisers. The elderly are vulnerable to financial abuse for several reasons. They have money in retirement savings, they may be lonely or isolated, and in some cases, there’s cognitive decline.

To protect against fraud, Consumer Reports advising using caller ID and don’t answer calls with numbers you don’t recognize. That will thwart many robocallers with phony offers. You can also opt out of commercial mail solicitations for five years through the website dmachoice.org. And always check out contractors through the Better Business Bureau and local licensing agencies. Families should make sure that seniors are out there in the community and aren’t isolated. Isolation is a major reason people are victimized.

If you or someone you know has been defrauded, contact the government’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. You can report the scam and get resources for seniors and family members.

Another resource is the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which as a toll-free fraud hotline at (855) 303-9470.

You can get more tips on protecting seniors from Consumer Reports.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

Author: CONSUMER REPORTS
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