BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU (BBB) SAVVY SENIORS PROGRAM
Locations across the USA and Canada.
"Nationwide, scams against seniors generate billions of dollars each year for criminals. Seniors are often targets of scam artists because they generally are more trusting of others and perceived to be easier to persuade...Knowledge is the best defense against these crimes. BBB Be Senior Savvy allows seniors to not only learn how to spot and avoid scams, but also offers resources that seniors can turn to if they do become a victim."
"According to a June 2010 survey by Investor Protection Trust, roughly 20% of seniors aged 65 and older already have been taken advantage of financially, whether through unreasonably high fees for financial services or outright fraud. Seniors often do not realize they have been the victim of a scam or may avoid telling someone for fear of losing their independence by appearing so vulnerable."
‘Savvy Seniors’ makes free presentations to seniors detailing why seniors are targeted, how seniors can protect themselves from fraud what to do if seniors find themselves to be a victim of a scam.
The Better Business Bureau educates seniors on how to be be ‘aware, informed and proactive’ so that they can protect themselves against common frauds and scams.
The program aims to arm seniors with the proper information, education and tools and related to preventing identity theft and other scams so that they can safeguard their assets.
Classes and seminars are held at community centers, senior centers and other available centers.
Outreach educational materials may also be available to homebound seniors and their caregivers.
Seminars and educational materials are available to help prevent financial elder abuse with scams such as:
- Ponzi Schemes.
- Pyramid Schemes.
- Windfall Scams - Instant Sweepstakes, Foreign Lotteries, Work-At-Home Offers, Inheritances.
- Heartstrings Scams - Bereavement, Funeral, Sweetheart and Charity Frauds.
- House & Home Scams – Contractor Scams, Door-To-Door Scams, Telemarketing Scams, Reverse Mortgage Scams etc.
The Better Business Bureau’s Top Ten Red Flags for Seniors include:
- Have you received a phone call asking for your personal information, bank account or credit card numbers, or Medicare ID number?
- Did you receive a check in the mail with a letter stating you’ve won a sweepstakes or prize?
- Has someone knocked on your door selling products or services (such as a roofer offering a discount or an individual selling magazines or home alarm installation)?
- Does the offer or product sound too good to be true?
- Have you been asked to wire money or return an overpayment?
- Have you found unexpected charges to your bank account or credit card?
- Did you receive an e-mail claiming to be from your financial institution asking you to update your account information?
- Did you receive a high-pressure, emotional call from a charity with a name that sounds similar to a recognized charity?
- Were you invited to an estate planning seminar?
- Did you get a call from someone in distress claiming to be your grandchild asking you to wire money to get out of a bind or call them back using an 876 area code?
The Better Business Bureau’s Top Scams Targeting Seniors are:
Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams –seniors receive a check and letter announcing that they have won a large sum of money. The letter tells seniors to deposit the check and wire funds in the same amount to cover fees, insurance and taxes. Ultimately, the check is counterfeit and the money is lost. The BBB suggests avoiding wiring money to someone who awards you with something too good to be true, and never pay money to accept a prize.
Grandparent Scam -seniors are being targeted by callers claiming to be their grandchild. The caller often claims to have gotten into a predicament in a different state, and asks them to wire money to them to post bail or pay for damages. The money ultimately goes to a scam artist, and you are out possibly thousands of dollars. The BBB suggests that seniors verify that they are truly speaking with your grandchild by asking questions only they could answer, and contact the grandchild’s parents to find out their whereabouts before trusting the caller.
Home Repair Fraud - a person comes to a senior’s door and claims to be a repair expert. He tells them that he noticed that their home, usually your roof or driveway, needs a repair and he can offer a great deal. In the end seniors may end up the victim for a job, which they didn’t need. The BBB suggests that seniors trust their instincts. If the ‘expert’ uses high pressure sales tactics or use intimidation to turn them away, and to never pay the cost of a job upfront.
The BBB suggests that seniors:
- Register their phone number with the National Do-Not-Call registry at 1-888-382-1222.
- Keep careful records of all transactions and shred documents before throwing them away.
- Trust their instincts. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Research a business at bbb.org prior to doing business with them.
- Never do business with someone who shows up at your door before doing your research.
- Avoid giving out personal information to an unknown caller or through e-mail.
- Do not wire money before verifying who the money is going to.
- Resist high pressure sales tactics. Take your time and ask questions before making any decisions.
Warning Signs for Caregivers
- The person receives lots of junk mail (“sweepstakes” offers, etc.) and gets frequent calls from people offering valuable awards or asking for charitable donations.
- The person has written checks or made withdrawals for escalating amounts of money to unfamiliar, out-of-state companies.
- The person begins to act very secretively about phone calls.
- The person is having sudden problems paying bills or buying food or other necessities.
Caregivers can help seniors by doing the following:
- Emphasize the criminal nature of telemarketing fraud and help the person learn how to identify it.
- Encourage the person to hang up on telephone solicitations that seem suspicious.
- Have a calm discussion about the best way to handle the person’s finances in the future. If he or she seems to be truly incompetent, seek legal advice.
- Help the person change his or her phone number, if necessary, and get on the Do-Not-Call list at www.donotcall.gov
The BBB offers the following for anyone on How to be a Savvy Consumer:
- Educate yourself by checking out a company's report with the BBB.
- Check with the licensing authority to make sure the company is properly licensed and that has had no record of disciplinary actions.
- Ask the company for referrals from other consumers.
- Read all contracts. If there is anything in the contract that you do not understand, ask for clarification.
- Communicate with the sales person exactly what you are trying to accomplish. So that the company knows exactly what you are looking for
- For online or internet purchases, check to make sure the company has provided contact information including address, telephone and a customer service point of contact such as an email address.
- Keep copies of all documentation, receipts, invoices, contracts.
source: bbb.org,snake-river.bbb.org, centraltx.bbb.org, bbb.org/san-diego,calgary.bbb.org
Elder Abuse Prevention Programs
Watch Elder Abuse Documentaries
How to Stop Elder Abuse
WATCH VIDEO ON BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU (BBB) SAVVY SENIORS PROGRAM