Senior fraud forum Friday in Austintown - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Senior fraud forum Friday in Austintown

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Seniors lose $36 billion dollars each year to elder financial abuse according to The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015.

The report found that the highest proportion of those losses comes from deceptive but technically legal tactics designed to take advantage of older Americans.

Valley senior citizens and family members concerned about falling victim to a scam may be interested in attending Friday's anti-fraud forum at the Austintown Senior Center.

The Ohio Attorney General's Elder Abuse Commission, in partnership with the Austintown Senior Center and Area Agency on Aging 11 has organized the event, which is free and open to the public.

The forum will feature experts from law enforcement, adult protective services, and other fields to address attendees' questions about detecting and avoiding fraud and financial exploitation.

The FBI’s Common Fraud Schemes webpage provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud.

Senior citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.

People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.

Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed.

Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.

Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on.

In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.

WHAT: "Mahoning Valley Anti-Fraud and -Exploitation Senior Forum"

WHERE: Austintown Senior Center, 112 Westchester Drive, Austintown, Ohio 44515

WHEN: Friday, May 11, 2018, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office says scammers use a variety of tactics to make their offers seem legitimate.

Their initial contact usually occurs by telephone, letters, door-to-door solicitations, fliers, e-mails and phony websites.

They often try to convince consumers to send them money or give personal information, such as bank account numbers and Social Security numbers.

Look out for the common signs of a scam listed below.

Signs of a Scam

You've won a contest you've never heard of.

You're pressured to "act now!"

You have to pay a fee to receive your "prize."

Your personal information is requested.

A large down-payment is requested.

The company refuses to provide written information.

The company has no physical address, only a P.O. Box.

They insist you pay in cash.

Protect Yourself:

Stay informed about the latest and most common consumer scams.

The following are the most important quick tips to remember to stay safe and protect your pocketbook:

Research Businesses and Charities:

Before doing business with a company, check its reputation with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau. You also should ask family and friends for recommendations of businesses and charities. Never do business with a company that refuses to give you information in writing or one that refuses to give you a phone number, a physical address or references. Check with the Ohio Secretary of State to make sure a company is registered as a business in Ohio.

Read the Fine Print:

Read all the terms and conditions of any agreement before you sign. Look for exclusions. Always get warranties in writing. Review contracts with a trusted attorney, friend or family member. Monitor your financial accounts. If a fraudulent charge appears on your bank statement, immediately notify your bank.

Remember Your Rights:

Ohio consumer law protects you from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices in consumer transactions. For example, advertisements must list a sale's exclusions and limitations, and a store must post its return policy if it has one. In Ohio, it is illegal to charge a fee for a prize. If you've actually won something, you won't need to send any money to get it.

Reconsider the purchase: Take your time before you make a decision. Never give personal information to someone you don't know or trust, even in a contest. Ask companies how they will use your personal information and ask them not to sell your information. Don't give in to high-pressure sales tactics. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never sign anything you do not understand. Ask questions and demand answers

Report Fraud:

If you have a problem with a purchase you made, notify the company in writing. Explain your complaint, the facts of the situation, the resolution you desire and give a deadline for the resolution. If you suspect fraud or if you cannot resolve the problem on your own, file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

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