Targeting Seniors

Telemarketing Fraud and Mail Scams

Telemarketing or telephone fraud is a multi-billion dollar business. Many consumers fall prey to scam artists who appear to be sincere and are very convincing. Senior citizens especially are targeted by those selling phoney products and services by telephone and through direct mail. You can learn how to recognize telephone fraud and mail scams.

Beware! It may be a scam if…

  1. You get a call or postcard from someone telling you you’ve won a free gift or prize but must pay for “postage and handling” or other administrative fees.
  2. The caller insists you must “take the offer now” or you’ll miss the opportunity.
  3. You are not given any written information about the company or the product before you commit to anything.
  4. You are asked to send cash only.
  5. The caller asks for your credit card number or other financial information and you are not given the chance to consider the offer carefully.
  6. You are asked for a donation but are not told exactly how the money will be used or how you can verify the charity and what it does.
  7. The company calls you day after day in an effort to gain your trust.
  8. The caller claims that you can make huge profits in an investment with no risk.
  9. You are asked to call a 1-900 number for more information on a free prize or gift. You are then asked to listen to a sales pitch at your cost.
  10. The offer promises easy money or easy credit or guarantees that you are a winner of a valuable prize.

Be Informed — Tips for Seniors

  1. Don’t pay for a free gift.
  2. If you are asked for money or up-front fees for a prize or contest, don’t give it.
  3. Never give out your credit card or other financial information to an organization you don’t know. This information can be sold to other companies.
  4. Don’t let anyone know you live alone.
  5. Be attentive. Most con artists are very friendly and appear quite sincere.
  6. If the caller is persistent or doesn’t understand “NO” hang up the phone!
  7. Check out unfamiliar companies or charities. Ask for written information on the organization. Review this information with someone you trust. Ask for a telephone number to call back.
  8. Be wary of high pressure sales tactics such as prizes, awards and deals that are only available if you “act right way”.
  9. Discard any solicitation for a “prepaid” or “special” deal with a nominal monthly “processing fee”.
  10. Be suspicious of solicitations with envelopes bearing the words “official notice” or “final notice”.
  11. Carefully examine any document you receive to ensure that it is not merely an offer for merchandise disguised as an invoice.
  12. Most importantly, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

If you need more information on telemarketing fraud and mail scams, and how you can protect yourself, please contact the Consumer Affairs or Government Service Centre Division.