Archive for Wednesday, August 26, 1992

RIPOFF REMINDERS

August 26, 1992

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There are any number of sound rules about such matters as investing and home repair jobs, and one of the very best remains: ``If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.''

When someone, anyone, promises instant ``pie in the sky'' for use of one's funds, check other sources, recognize risk and analyze the situation. If in doubt, don't.

Beware of door-to-door repair and renovation people, too.

Of late, there seems to have been a rising incidence of scams involving older people. They are often exploited by glib, personable younger individuals with all sorts of miraculous offers to get rich quickly or put a premises in shape. We're told that summertime is the favorite time of the year for con artists out to victimize the elderly.

The trouble is, by the time the victim recognizes what has happened, the thief is generally long gone. There are a number of con games which never are reported to authorities because the victims are too embarrassed to go public. Some authorities think only two out of every 10 victims of con artists ever report crimes.

Often, experts say, such criminals are outstanding actors. They appear innocent, friendly and affable. Add the fact that some senior citizens are lonely, and are flattered by the attention, and the atmosphere of gullibility expands.

Con artists may visit a home or call on the telephone. One should never give a caller any important information such as a bank account number, Social Security number or credit card number. A dishonest person not only can use these numbers immediately, but can use them later into all types of criminal activity.

The most frequent scams involve home repairs. A con artist sees a house in disrepair and knocks on the door, offering to do the work quickly and for cash up front. Ask for references and licenses and check out people and their claims. Never hand out money until work is done to your satisfaction. Proceed slowly and deliberately, and if the person involved is impatient, terminate the relationship and call for help if the ``seller'' gets abusive.

How many local scams have not been reported this year because the victims are too ashamed to speak up? How many new ripoffs can be prevented by people, old and young, who are forewarned and refuse to be stampeded into a game of chance or a work project that never gets done?

Always keep in mind that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. That can save you a lot of money and grief.

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