Friday, January 27, 2012

Spotlight on Seniors: Tennessee's Top 3 Scams Against the Elderly

Still photo from Channel 4 news report

WSMV reported Wednesday that a Nashville widow was scammed by a man claiming to be a home repairman. The video of the story shows how the distraught woman, who was not identified, fell into the trap of the scammer. The victim was hard of hearing and lived alone. Metro Police say scams of this sort with the elderly are quite common this time of year.  Living alone is tough for some older residents, so having the help of a trained caregiver can be a way to avoid such incidents. To prevent other elderly residents from experiencing scams, Progress Inc. has compiled a list of the top three scams affecting seniors and some other important information that can help prevent a scam from happening to you.

Telemarketing: Fraudulent telemarketers often prey on trusting seniors by using heartstring pleas, aggressiveness, and undue pressure to get them to purchase high-priced items they do not want or need. In some cases, the telemarketers lure consumers to reveal valuable, private information such as bank account, credit card, and Social Security numbers, which they later use to commit identity theft. Being prepared in advance with caller-ID and registering with state and local Do Not Call registries can help eliminate and/or curtail deceptive callers.

Charitable Solicitations: Many seniors have the financial resources to be generous supporters of charitable organizations. Unscrupulous individuals target seniors for “charitable contributions” both over the phone and door-to-door. Always ask for identification, and tell them to return after you have called the charity to confirm what they have told you. Never provide personal information or a contribution until you are certain about the legitimacy of the solicitor and the organization. Check with the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming of the Secretary of State’s office where Tennessee charities are required to register.

Investment schemes: Some seniors have a lifetime of savings at their disposal. Scammers may go door-to door with fraudulent or risky investment “opportunities.” Others seniors may be approached by “new” friends and neighbors who claim to have already hit it big in an attractive investment scheme. Families with seniors choosing to stay at home may want to agree to have a trusted family member involved in any significant financial matters. If you have been a victim of one of these schemes, file a complaint with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.

More Information on Senior Care and Preventing Scams:
For more information about trusted senior caregivers, .For local Do Not Call information call 1-877-TRA-7030 and for national information call
 Visit to research charities before making a
 Victims of investment and other scams can file a complaint with the Division of
Consumer Affairs at or call toll-free in Tennessee 1-800-342-8385.

Source: Tennessee Attorney General's Office and Progress Inc.

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