Real Estate Bargains and
Scams Targeting Older Adults
There are some bad people out there who like to target older adults for scams. For example, after a fire or other natural disaster, or even after a crime, experienced hands at trying to squeeze money out of those in desperate need may descend like vultures on a certain neighborhoods. When it comes to avoiding being scammed, here are a few key things to look out for and run away from as soon as you can -- even if it's only to the phone to call the police.
• Always use the peephole or locked screen door when you answer that doorbell or rap on your front door. It's hard to resist trying to help someone who had "lost their dog" or needs money because their car has just broken down. Be careful of people posing as utility workers who "just want to come inside and check on the gas line.” Be especially careful if it's more than one person, as they often use a distraction tactic to steal. If you are alone, pretend you're not.
• There are millions of online scams and with a few cautions here you can avoid a lot of the hassles they may bring. Never click on a link or photo in an email from someone you don't know. Never send your personal info in an email, such as your social security number or password for your banking site. No legitimate institution will ask for anything like that. Don't even send them your address or phone number. Watch out for “phising” scams in which crooks send emails that look like official emails from your bank or other institutions. The links in these may send you to an official looking website and ask you to change your password or account number. Don’t do it. Call the institution from which the email supposedly came and ask if they just sent you an email.
• Get a good quality anti-virus software and set it up to get the latest info every day from the company's site. If an outside source can plant a worm or virus or spyware program on your computer, they can skim a lot of information from it.
• If you have a computer repair person come to your house, and you don't know him well, then watch him every second. He can get info off your computer and use it for no good. If you take your computer into a store for repair, try and clean off (but save) any personal information. If all of your data is frozen on the computer, then only choose a well-known repair spot.
• If you need any type of construction or renovation done in your home, then get a contract and estimate first and check to see the contractor's license. In California , for example, anyone providing more than $500 worth of service needs to have a license. Many states have similar regulations. Make sure that both of you sign off on contracts like this, and never get any kind of repair, even minor, from someone traveling door to door.
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