Just about anyone is a potential victim of some type of fraud these days, but senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to telemarketing fraud. This is largely because the scam artists use fake products and services that senior citizens might need, such as Medicare and medical equipment. If you think you might be at risk, follow these tips to avoid telemarketing fraud.
Ask for Literature
It is far easier to become a victim of telemarketing fraud over the phone than if you have the information in black and white right in front of you. Senior citizens should always ask for literature if they receive calls asking them to buy something, or if they’re called by someone claiming to be an insurance representative.
Avoid Unfamiliar Businesses
If you don’t recognize the name of a business, it isn’t a good idea to put your money down right on the spot. Senior citizens should make sure they only do business with familiar companies who are known to be legitimate. And even if you’re called by someone claiming to be from a familiar company, you should call the corporate number back just to be sure.
Use Consumer Protection Agencies
Senior citizens can also avoid telemarketing fraud by using the services of consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau. Before you order something from a company, look them up at BBB.org or call the local number to verify their legitimacy. If complaints have been filed against them, your money would best be served elsewhere.
Get Contact Information
Any time you are dealing with someone over the phone, you should request their name and contact information for your own records. This is true of telemarketing and of legitimate businesses to protect yourself, especially if you’re handing over those credit card numbers. Senior citizens should keep these records in files or in other safe locations for future reference if they want to avoid telemarketing fraud.
Never Pay in Advance
If you are solicited for a service, such as roof repair or landscaping, never give the company money up front. Instead, wait until the job is done to your satisfaction, then hand over the cash. Senior citizens are often victims of telemarketing fraud where a service business never shows up for promised repairs or maintenance.
Beware Pick-Up Scams
Another way in which senior citizens can be victims of telemarketing fraud is when a company “offers” to send a representative to collect money for a service or product in advance. This is supposedly so the victim doesn’t have to drive anywhere, but is actually a clever scheme to avoid leaving a paper trail. Don’t fall for it.
Make a Plan
The best way that senior citizens can protect themselves against telemarketing fraud is by having a plan. Decide right now what type of information you’re willing to give out over the phone, and what type is not an option. Stick to that plan no matter what the person on the other end of the line happens to say.