Viki Bowman, director of the Price Senior Citizen Council said this week that there has been an increase in frauds and scams affecting seniors.
Several phone solicitors, one example just this week, is requesting money to fallen police officers. Bowman has been receiving numerous calls from elderly people who are questioning the legitimacy of the donation or organization.
There are a number of things people in general can do when they receive phone solicitations for donations said Bowman.
"My first advice is to never donate over the phone," said Bowman, adding that she "recommends people in general decide that they will not contribute to an unknown fund or campaign over the phone."
Another couple of suggestions include asking the solicitors for their phone number and tell them you will check the group or organization out through the Better Business Bureau or the local law enforcement agency.
"If the group or campaign is a fraud this will stop them," said Bowman, "you can count on them hanging up if you ask for their phone number."
"People should also tell the solicitor to remove their names from lists," she added, saying that by law they are required to do this.
Bowman explained that seniors are often more vulnerable to these kinds of campaigns or scams because they are often home during the day and they are often lonely and like to talk to people.
"Besides," said Bowman, "they are people who grew up taking care of their neighbors so they often help."
Solicitors know these things and often prey on unsuspecting elderly people. Bowman also recommends never to give a credit card number over the phone.
Another example of fraud that occurs on a regular basis deals with contractors or repair people.
These door-to-door contractors are often licensed but they do rip off the elderly by doing more work tha approved or additional work and charging more money than agreed upon.
Bowman explained that they may be hired to do a specific job like fix the chimney but then the contractor sees that the fence needs repairing and do that too. and while they are working, By doing that they stack up a large bill that the senior feels obligated to pay.
"Basically these contractors are performing many other services that are not requested," she said.
Seniors and everyone else should be aware of this type of contractor and follow careful steps to prevent unwanted or surprisingly large bills. Bowman recommends that a service contract be drawn up and outline all the specific duties and costs. It is important to specifically say that any additionally services must be approved prior to being completed or they will not be paid.
Seniors can contact the consumer protection agency or local law enforcement agency if they suspect a fraudulent contractor. Bowman also says that all workers or contractors must be licensed and if they are not they should never be hired.
Bowman reminds seniors that is their responsiblity to check these people out.
"Do not open your checkbook to anyone, it is your money and you should do your homework," she concluded.