WATER-OAK Crimestoppers

WATER-OAK Crime Stoppers

Watertown & Oakville, Connecticut

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Safety Tips - Senior Citizen Fraud

Each year hundreds of Litchfield County residents over the age of 60 fall victim to a wide variety of fly-by-night house repair and investment scams. Such scams range from the sale of misidentified rare coins and the telemarketing of nonexistent oil wells to the sale of worthless or overpriced insurance policies and misrepresentations used to sell unnecessary and overpriced living trusts and personal emergency response systems. The local law enforcement agencies intend to make seniors fully aware of the many scams often perpetuated against them by con artists. They help seniors avoid becoming victims of consumer fraud, emphasizing that the most effective way to attack this problem is through prevention.

Senior citizens in Watertown/Oakville and across the state are easy targets for con artists. Seniors own more than half of all financial assets in America. At the same time, they are vulnerable. While people over 65 comprise 11 percent of the U.S. population, they represent roughly 30 percent of scam victims, according to a U.S. Subcommittee on Health and Long Term Care. As a result, seniors lose billions of unrecoverable dollars each year to fraud.

The disproportionate victimization of older people in connection with consumer fraud is partly attributable to generational and economic factors. Seniors grew up in an era when business was done on a handshake. Further, a study by the American Association of Retired Persons has found that older people are quicker to believe promises and slower to take steps to protect their legal rights. Since seniors often save money for retirement, they often have money on hand.

The economic consequences older citizens of Watertown area suffer when defrauded are often devastating. Although most seniors in the county are not poor, many have saved for retirement through long years of work. In fact, Social Security is the main source of income for a majority of older residents in the county. With fixed monthly Social Security or pension checks, it is nearly impossible to replenish bank accounts emptied as a result of fraud.

There are many common practices con artists use to defraud seniors, but most are a variation of these three: telemarketing, mail and door-to-door sales. While many scams involve both mailings and telemarketing, some use all three methods. For example, many con artists will generate leads by mailing a survey to gauge interest in a product or service. Consumers who show interest, usually by returning a postcard, are then contacted by telephone or a traveling salesperson who makes the sales pitch.

Check out examples of current consumer scams you should be aware of. Click on the different Scams under "Exploring the Site". Study the examples and learn the warning signs of a con artist.

Senior citizens are an integral part of the community. Through education and awareness, seniors can be empowered to use reasonable precautions in avoiding con games and scams. If you feel uncomfortable, check it out before you buy. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

If you have any questions or feel that you are a victim of a scam or con game please contact:

The Watertown Police (860-945-5200)

Have a tip?
Call 860-945-9940