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Tips to Prevent Senior Scams
 By Allen Riggs

(Page 2 of 3)

HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD

Home improvement contractors use several methods of targeting seniors: high pressure phone calls, flyers, advertisements, and door-to-door-sales.  Fraudulent contractors can be very effective in making people think their services are needed, and then defrauding their victims.

STEPS TO TAKE:

  • Use a local well-established contractor.  Ask for references and check them.
  • Get competitive bids on all work and be wary of any bids that seem too good to be true.  Donít accept high-pressure offers or offers that force you to make a quick decision.
  • Determine exactly what work you want done.  Make sure the project is explicitly described in your contract, including materials and labor specifics and dates for estimated start and completion.
  • Never say yes to someone who wants money up front before the job is done or wants you to withdraw a large amount of money from your bank.
  • Check to see that the work is complete and done correctly before paying.
  • Find out when and how payment and/or billing will take place before the work begins.

DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES

Seniors are frequent victims of door-to-door scams and high-pressure sales tactics. While some door-to-door salespeople are honest, the chances are likely that whoever answers the door is about to be swindled.  Con-artists often try to coax seniors into buying unnecessary products or services ranging from living trusts to encyclopedias to household cleaning supplies.  They usually appear friendly and appear sincere in their desire to help.  In fact, they are successful because they seem so honest.

STEPS TO TAKE:

  • Never allow anyone you donít know into your home.  It is easier to close the door on them before they get in than to get them out once they are inside.
  • Donít buy on impulse.  Tell the salesperson you will get back in touch after you have had a chance to carefully read all the materials given to you.
  • Ask to see the salespersonís credentials and identification and request their business card.  Many communities require door-to-door salespersons to have a permit.
  • Never give cash up front to a salesperson or rely on verbal promises for delivered goods.
  • If you sign a contract, make sure that it is complete, signed and dated.  Get all terms in writing, including the total price, warranties, return policy, and all conditions of sale.
  • Know that you can get out of a door-to-door sales contract within three business days.  According to the FTCís Cooling Off Rule, you have the right to cancel your contract for a full refund until midnight of the third business day after the sale, provided that you have a signed contract and the sale was over $25.  You donít have to have any reason to cancel.

 

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