Guard yourself from scams - Morgan Hill Times: Red Phone

Guard yourself from scams

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Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 9:44 am

“Hi Red Phone, it was wonderful to hear that the man scamming seniors out of money for yard work he never did was finally arrested. Great job to everyone involved. I’m wondering if you could remind readers some of the warning signs when it comes to door-to-door scam artists. Thanks a million!”

Red Phone: Dear Vigilant Victor, There are some basic guidelines for seniors who may encounter a friendly door-to-door salesman or contractor.

If you understand their tactics, you may be able to better arm yourself before handing over cash for a job. For example, a scammer might break a branch off a tree then bring it to the resident saying it needs trimming or has a disease and needs care. Often a scammer will promise to do a certain job at a much lower price than it might usually cost but use shoddy materials, such as spreading motor oil over a drive-way instead of resurfacing the cement.

One approach is referred to as the “affinity scam” - which is when a scam artist will get names of several neighbors to use to convince the senior citizen that the scam artist has done good work for neighbors.

Here’s some tips to avoid door-to-door scammers:

• Always ask for a contractor’s license. If someone can’t provide a license, don’t do business with them.

• Ask for references before handing over your money. Contact the references on your phone and on your own time.

• Get a second opinion. Usually there’s nothing so urgent that you need to get the work completed on the spot.

• Never pay in cash. It can be spent immediately and can’t be traced. Banks also have consumer fraud measures to prevent the check from going through in the case of fraud.

• If you don’t feel comfortable, just walk away. It’s OK. If you believe you’ve been scammed, contact 1-877-DA-ELDER.

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