Donít Get Taken To The Cleaners - Protect Yourself
By Brenda Darr, Minnesota Seniors Online Staff Member


With all the technology out there and the economy being what it is, itís a scammerís delight. Work from home schemes to internet fraud, the market is quite ripe for scammers to target just about anyone.

Scammers see Seniors as an easy mark. Why? Seniors tend to be more trusting. It used to be someoneís word was gold and deals were sealed with a handshake and a smile. Those were the Good íOle Days. In todayís world, those days are ancient history.

You donít have to fall prey to scammers. There are things you can do to protect yourself:

1. Ask questions. Lots of questions.

For example, a few years ago, in my disc jockey business, I received an email from a scammer who said he was from France. He wanted to book my services for his wedding in the area. I read further and he wanted to pay me 4 times my fee and have me wire him the difference.

Sensing something wasnít quite right, I sent him my usual response which included a ton of
questions about his wedding. My questions included: Where is your wedding going to be? What time is the ceremony? What time is the reception to start? How many guests will there be in attendance? What kind of music do you want played? The list goes on. I do this to gain a rapport with my potential clients.

He responded back focusing more on the money he wanted to pay because he wanted to book my services immediately.

I responded back that I will need a signed contract from him first. On it would be name, address, phone number, and event information. Our emails volleyed back and forth a few more times, each time he got more belligerent about the money, but I would not waiver from getting a signed contract from him. Ultimately, he knew he wasnít going to get what he wanted from me and I never heard from him again. It was a scam.

Donít be afraid to ask a stranger a lot of questions.

2. Donít share important and sensitive information, such as bank account number, social security number, Medicare ID number, Insurance ID number, or driverís license number with someone who emails you, calls you, or sends a letter to you simply asking you for it. Follow this simple rule: if you donít know the entity asking for that
information, they have no legitimate reason to have that information. The only people that should have that information are the entities you do business with regularly like your doctor, attorney, family caregivers, bank, mortgage, insurance agent, etc.

3. Donít be afraid to say NO!

You donít have to be pressured into making a decision. You have the right to take your time and decide for yourself. If a scammer uses the hard sell tactic, and they most likely will to get what they want. They will make it sound too good to be true. If it just doesnít sound or feel right to you, itís OK to say NO and walk away. Youíre not hurting their feelings, when they know they wonít get what they want from you, theyíll move on.

4. Arm yourself with information.

The Better Business Bureau,, and the Federal Trade Commission,,  are two entities that keep up with information about the latest scams. They also have a wealth of information you can use to better protect yourself.