Home Improvement Scams
If anyone comes to your house claiming that you need repairs done, that person is more than likely a con artist. Always ask if they are licensed and insured. Also ask for references and then see if they are listed in the phone book.
Most home improvement con artists will say that your roof needs repaired, your driveway needs sealed, or your foundation or brickwork needs to be repaired.
Con artists will generally ask for money up front for supplies.
A good reputable company will give you an estimate, is listed in the phone book, and will accept payment after the job is complete.
A good company does not call on homeowners to solicit work. They are generally busy enough from people who answer their advertisements.
If you are still unsure about a business you can call the Better Business Bureau at (417) 862-4222. They have information on companies that have been reported and can disseminate pamphlets on several subjects.
Can I Use Your Phone/Bathroom?
There have been cases in the past where a young couple or two females will knock on someone’s door and ask to use the restroom or phone.
While in the house they will steal the victim’s checkbooks, credit cards, etc. While one person is in the bathroom, the other person will distract the homeowner.
While the homeowner is talking with one person, the other person will look for items to steal.
Easy Money Scams
Be wary of people who call your house claiming to make you money. You can’t get something for nothing.
Some may call you and say that they are holding a large amount of money in an overseas account. They will say that they need a bank account here in the states to deposit the money into. So they ask if they can transfer the money into your account. For your services they will pay you several thousand dollars. They then ask for your account number.
Some people will call on someone and tell them that they are with the government. They say that your bank is handing out counterfeit money and ask you for your assistance. They then ask that you withdraw several hundred dollars for them to inspect. After they inspect it they will give it back to you. After you give them the money they leave and never come back.
Credit Card Scams
If anyone calls you and claims they are with your credit card company, and then asks you to verify your credit card number by giving it to them, DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM! Your credit card company knows your credit card number. A rule of thumb would be to never give out your credit card number to anyone.
This is the fastest growing crime in the United States. If you like to shop over the Internet, be very careful when it comes to auctions. Purchasing from companies is pretty safe, provided they are reputable companies.
However it is recommend that you do not buy anything from any individual over the Internet. Most people who have been defrauded have purchased an item from an individual on the Internet, only to never see the item that they have purchased. Even if there is an Internet brokering company involved you can still get ripped off.
To prevent being a victim of forgery I recommend you do the following:
If you are the victim of a burglary or theft where your checks are taken, please contact your bank and close the checking account.
Do not mail bills from your mailbox. Go to the post office. Check forgers will steal mail and use the checks they find to make counterfeit checks.
When it is time to order new checks, have them sent to your bank. Then go to your bank and pick them up when they arrive.
Do not have your social security number printed on the front of your personal checks.
Don’t throw away old checks in the trash where someone could find them and use them. Even if the checks are on an old account that you have closed, people can still get them and pass them around town. You will be responsible for them until they are reported as forgeries.
If your bank mails your checks back to you in your statement once they have cleared, please dispose of them properly. I recommend an inexpensive paper shredder.
You should also dispose of old credit card and bank statements. All someone needs to cause you grief is your bank account or credit card numbers.
Keep a list ready with all of your credit cards and the phone numbers to them in the event that they are stolen or you lose your purse or wallet. It is easier to cancel your cards when you know who to call.
One last thing senior citizens need to be aware of is the fact that some con artists will look in the obituaries and then contact spouses of recently deceased persons in attempts to defraud.
Is it possible to win a sweepstakes you never entered? NO! If you ever get a telephone call or a letter saying that you won the Australian, Canadian, European, etc. sweepstakes don’t believe it. This will be followed by a request for you to send money to them for “processing fees.” This is a very potent scam that is being carried out on the senior population of this country.
Report Identity Theft to:
Equifax Credit Bureau, Fraud
Experian Information Solutions
TransUnion Credit Bureau, Fraud
Federal Trade Commission
Local Police Department or Sheriffs Office
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Local Post Office
Social Security Administration, Fraud Hotline