In British Columbia, seniors and immi grants are often the target of scammers – though with technology making it easier and easier to scam someone from their hard-earned money, anyone can be a victim. Here are some of the biggest scams to look out for:
Door-to-Door Scams-Not everyone that comes to your door to sell you a product or service is a scammer, but if they use high pressure sales tactics then you need to be careful. Ask for their contact information and website, and tell them that you will contact them if you decide you want whatever it is they are trying to sell you. If they tell you the offer is only available at that moment, then you should take a pass on it. Any reputable business will give you the chance to think about it and get back to them.
E-mail Scams– E-mail scams are a favourite of identity thieves. They send you an e-mail that usually looks quite official. These e-mail requests may look like they are coming from a bank or some other “official” type of institution, and request that you send them personal information. Other e-mail scams include your winning some prize for a contest that you never entered or some type of business proposal (both of which usually ask that you send them some money in exchange for a much larger sum that will obviously never materialize). The best bet is to erase any e-mails from unfamiliar sources without opening them.
Telephone Scams: Seniors are often victimized by telephone scammers. These scammers claim to be grandchildren who are in some type of emergency and need money sent right away. Every year seniors lose thousands of dollars as a result of such scams.
Business Opportunities:Every couple of years there seems to be a new business opportunity that arises, where the more people you bring into the company, the more money you can make. Quite often such a “business” is a pyramid scheme, which only survives because new people that join help to pay those who are already in it. Eventually, as less and less people join, the money stops flowing and the pyramid collapses, leaving many people behind who lost a great deal of money. Do your homework before investing in any business opportunity: find out as much as possible about the business (how long it has been around, its reputation, its average yearly earnings, etc.)
Money-saving Schemes: Last year, our community was targeted by scammers who were selling ‘power saving’ devices that were supposedly going to reduce our electric bills if we simply plugged them into our electric sockets. These of course turned out to be useless. It is just a matter of time before another one of these money-saving scam targets our community once again.
Health Schemes: Scammers are frequently advertising in ethnic media about how they can ‘cure’ all kinds of diseases and illnesses with costly liquids and pills that don’t do anything (and may even be harmful). Holistic and naturopathic medicines can be effective, but anyone that promises to cure all sorts of illnesses and diseases (especially those that don’t have a cure) are best avoided.
Anytime you are considering spending, investing or donating your hard-earned money, always do your homework. Never let yourself be pressured into anything, and steer clear from anyone who does try to pressure you into giving them money. And always remember the old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.