It is a known fact that scam artists target older and retired folks who are so easy to fool. What makes this especially bad is that the people scammed usually are those who just can’t afford to throw their money away.
Being fooled is not the obvious sign here. The scam artists come across as just like you and me. They are personable and usually have a great family story to tell to disarm you.
Many retired victims rely on what they see as the indicator that they are dealing with a legitimate person or business.
After a major storm we are reminded by news media to be cautious of door to door strangers soliciting business to rebuild or re-roof area homes. This is a good warning but, as in the Houston area after the hurricane damage, it takes more than the local resources to rebuild extensive damage.
Most people have a computer or smart phone these days. That’s the start of making sure you don’t get duped! Regardless of how cautious you may think you are, you need to follow a process that guarantees your safety and sanity.
NEVER let the individual standing at your front door enter your home!
It’s sad, but you must consider worst case scenario unless you made the initial phone call and invited the person standing on your porch to visit to discuss business with you. Talk through a locked door telling the uninvited individual to leave a business card or brochure under the door mat. Criminal intruders like to target both men and women in retirement thinking they are more easily overtaken (mentally or physically) than a younger person.
If you asked for someone to call on you at home or elsewhere, ASK for identification! Make sure it’s legit. If you have any red flags, call the company.
A while back I saw a guy walk past the window where I was working in the back area of our home. I grabbed my cell phone and the police radio I had at the time, ran out the kitchen door and stopped him. The man claimed to be a gas meter reader. He was not in uniform, said he hopped the fence to work fast and had no company or personal ID because people could steal it from him!
Facts, our gate was locked and he had climbed over the 6 foot high wooden fence at the rear of our yard.
Long story short, I made the intruder sit by the fence inside the locked backyard, called the number he provided for his supervisor at the gas company and demanded the boss come out to identify the supposed meter reader. The boss arrived about two hours later and vouched for the meter reader but I made sure the gas company traded out our gas meter for one that is read remotely by satellite. The mystery this solved was the on-going repairs needed to our fencing right where the fence jumper made his climb!
You may be retired, but you MUST get savvy with your computer or smart phone even if you HATE technology! It’s your best private investigation tool.
Google is my favorite friend when it comes time to decide if a person is who they say they are.
Put in the person’s name and the city where they say they are from. In the DFW metroplex you can enter “Fort Worth” and it will pull up other cities as well but know to focus on the basic area you enter.
A big scam risk for anyone, not just retired people, is when you have something for sale and someone calls saying they will be over to purchase or inspect the item for sale. Know who you are letting through the front door or don’t let them in!
Get a bit chatty with the individual when they call about the item for sale.
Get a general area of where they live (usually they are happy to volunteer the street and what they are near.) Any other information you can glean from your conversation is good. After leaving the phone call, check the person out using Google. Usually you can get the age, address and a phone number. You may get additional information like the person’s community activity, occupation, family size and members, and a whole lot more.
If you still have red flags, call the purchasing individual back, arrange to meet at one of the local police department divisions (Fort Worth offers this,) at your bank or a busy public location. If the item for sale is too big to move around, call a couple neighbors or friends and make sure they are with you when the potential buyer arrives.
Use a neighborhood interactive website if available for your area. “Nextdoor” is a great choice.
I have sold a number of items and also advertised a small garage sale on the website that is designed for a city’s local neighborhoods called “Nextdoor.”
It is easy to check someone out if they are calling you because of seeing your ad on the Nextdoor website. Nextdoor is a valuable alert system as well as neighbor connector. It has grown a lot in the last few years and my Nextdoor neighborhoods reach in my area of west Fort Worth is about 4,000 individuals. This is enough dedicated eyes watching all the postings to sell an item or get an alert that a scammer is working our area.
Neighbors also use Nextdoor to check out companies and individuals they are thinking of hiring as well as ask for referrals. And, you get honest opinions, the good, bad, and the ugly. Most recently there were many inquiries for a vet in my neighborhood (Ridglea North) and many of us recommended
my vet of over 30 years Dr. Terrell Rourke at Western Hills Animal Hospital. You may not know the person you are connecting with but surely you know others who are connected to that person.
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