Anyone may become the victim of a scam, but older people have a particular risk of being targeted by fraudsters. It may be difficult for an older person to recognise a scam, for example because of a memory disorder or some other factor that reduces their functional capacity. This is why their family and friends should be aware of different types of scams.
Older people or their family members often contact the consumer protection authorities about problem situations associated with telemarketing. These problems usually concern a subscription trap: the consumer has been led to believe that they are placing a cheap one-off order, when in actual fact it was an expensive ongoing subscription. Another example of telemarketing scams is when a product and an invoice are sent to a consumer even if they have told the seller that they do not wish to order anything. Situations where telemarketing is disguised as research or a collection for charity are also scams.
You may also come across scams in door-to-door sales. For example, a seller may try to sell older people over-priced renovations that they do not need. The best way to protect yourself against such problems is to take time to look into the offer and discuss it with somebody you know and trust. You should never sign a contract without thinking about it, especially if the seller rushes or pressurises you.
- Offers that sound too good are usually scams.
- Free samples and introductory offers often lead to a standing order.
- Take your time to think about the offer. Talk to someone you know and trust before you order anything or sign a contract. You can also contact the Consumer Advisory Services for guidance.
- If an invoice is sent to you, always check that it is justified. If you have doubts about the invoice, contact the sender.
- A bank or other official body will never ask for your online banking credentials on the phone.