Consumer Alert: Scams targeting senior citizens

Senior citizens are prime targets for scam artists. They're targeted more often than any other age group, according to the state's Division of Consumer Affairs.



They've worked all their lives to build the assets they need for retirement, and experts say that's one of the reasons financial scams aimed at seniors have become so common.



"Scams against seniors have essentially become a multibillion-dollar industry," says New Jersey Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee. 



Lee says that seniors can protect themselves against scams by remembering one simple rule: You can't get something for nothing.



"If someone is offering you a guaranteed investment or lottery winnings for a lottery you didn't enter, be suspicious," Lee says.



Some warning signs for seniors to keep in mind:



" Beware of anyone who tells you to keep your conversation with them secret or tells you not to get a second opinion. 



" Don't trust anyone who insists you wire cash, or use money orders or prepaid cards; unlike with a credit card, you can never get that money back.



" Don't take phone calls from people who say they're with the IRS or another government agency. It's OK to hang up - the government doesn't collect money over the phone.



" Don't be afraid to be rude.



"If someone is trying to defraud you, hang up the phone," says Lee. "You wouldn't let someone in the door who was trying to steal your TV. Just don't even engage."



More information on how seniors can prevent fraud can be found at the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs 'Anti-Fraud Toolkit' website.


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