ITS ABOUT PROTECTION FROM
SCAMS AND FRAUDS
Some of the most common scams
involve home repairs, clean-up efforts, heating and cooling
equipment, charities, donating money, bank transfers, telephone,
and damage or repairs to automobiles. This type of scam artist
usually prey on the elderly, single or widowed women living alone.
Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and any
specific filing requirements that the company may have.
Although you may be anxious to get
things repaired and back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't
be pressured into signing long-term contracts. Make temporary
repairs if necessary.
Be wary of door-to-door workers who
claim your home or automobile are unsafe. If concerned about
possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer,
architect or a building official from East Orange Property
Maintenance inspect it.
This is also the time of year when
scam artists go into the "home improvement" business. Often a
pickup truck will stop at the house of an elderly person and tell
them that they were working in the area and noticed that the
victims driveway needed repair. Since they are in the area anyway
they are willing to give the victim a "great deal" on resurfacing
the driveway. When the victim agrees the scam artists will quickly
brush on some coal tar on top of the driveway which will make it
look fresh for a few days or until it rains. For this "repair"
with $50.00 worth of materials the scam artist will charge
hundreds or thousands of dollars and quickly disappear before the
victim becomes aware they have been ripped off. A variation of
this scam is that these same people will "repair" roofs by
resurfacing them with a cheap sealer and charging outrageous
prices for this worthless "fix."
Remember - be suspicious of any deal that is "For Today Only",
pressure tactics, a "Special Price" if you sign right away, or
large cash deposits are required in advance. You should always get
at least two bids for a repair job. Ask for and check out
references of prior work.
Don't be Conned
The Pigeon Drop -
swindlers claim they have found a large sum of money and offer to
share it with you. They ask you to put up some "good faith" money
before you get in on the deal. That is the last you will see of
your money. You are left with nothing but phony instructions on
how to collect your share of the "found" cash.
The Bank Examiner -
professional - looking person tells you he is a bank official and
needs your help in the investigation of a dishonest teller. He
asks you to withdraw cash from your savings account and give the
money to him so he can check the serial numbers. You do what he
asks, and you never see him or your money again.
Home Repairs -
an unsolicited "free" inspection of your furnace, roof, air
conditioner, or anything.
Prepare a written agreement with
anyone you hire. Never pay for repairs in advance and never pay
cash; use a check or money order! If possible, don't allow these
strangers to enter your home without anyone present. Never give
strangers the keys to your home or automobile, they can be easily
Always get several estimates for
any repair job. Be sure to compare prices and contract terms.
Ask for references AND check
Contact your local Better Business
Bureau to check out a company's reputation before you authorize
any work or pay out any money.
If you are still unsure of the
reputation or identity of the solicitor and you think he or she
might be involved in a scam, call the East Orange Police
Department or your local police agency and explain the
There are many telephone charity
scams, many times they represent themselves as a police or fire
organization. Before giving, make sure that the charity is
legitimate. Ask questions. Ask for a call back number. Make sure
you know exactly who you are giving to. Feel free to check on a
charity - ask questions - ask the caller to mail you some
information and for a call back number. Ask about their tax - free
status and the percentage of your donation that the charity will
receive. Do not feel pressured to make an immediate commitment;
"deadlines" are a characteristic of a scam. Do not pay with cash;
use a check.
State of New Jersey
Department of Law and Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
in-depth study to determine the types of frauds frequently
directed at New Jersey's older citizens, the New Jersey Division
of Consumer Affairs' Elder Fraud Task Force issued a detailed
report on its findings and made recommendations on how to combat
the types of frauds affecting the State's senior citizens.
The Elder Fraud Task Force's study
determined that four areas of fraud were most problematic for the
more than 1.3 million older citizens residing in New Jersey: Home
Repair, Telemarketing, Financial/Securities and Health/Insurance.
Although most fraud victims are between the ages of 18 and 35,
nearly 30% are over the age of 65. With one out of five New
Persians over the age of 60, the Division of Consumer Affairs
("Consumer Affairs") is striving to protect those citizens from
fraud or unscrupulous business practices. To meet this goal,
Consumer Affairs, which is part of the Department of Law and
Public Safety, established the Elder Fraud Investigations ("EFI")
The EFI Unit investigates cases
where senior citizens have been victimized and protects others
from being defrauded. Representatives from the EFI Unit travel
throughout New Jersey educating older citizens and residents of
senior housing communities, clubs and organizations. EFI members
also assist victims in filing complaints with appropriate
agencies. Presentations are tailored to fit whatever time
constraints your club or organization may have. EFI members are
also available following presentations to speak privately with
anyone who wishes to do so. Copies of the "New Jersey Division of
Consumer Affairs Facts for Older Citizens" booklet is distributed,
free of charge, to all attendees.
If your group is interested in
having a member of the Elder Fraud Investigations Unit attend a
meeting, or you need assistance in filing a complaint, please call
the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in Newark or in
Camden. For the Newark Office, call 973-504-6534. For the Camden
Office, call 856-614-3100. When calling, ask for a member of the
Elder Fraud Investigations Unit, or leave a message to have your
call returned. A meeting
with your organization will be scheduled as soon as possible.
Remember, Consumer Affairs is here to help you.
Links for Older Citizens some in Adobe Acrobat ® format.
Adobe Acrobat ® format is required for PDF files. You can get it here
free without any cost to you... click icon below.
Facts for New Jersey's Older Citizens Booklet, English Version
(PDF file, 504 K)
Facts for New Jersey's Older Citizens Booklet, Spanish Version
(PDF file, 504 K)
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