Actually I do have a list. It may be a bit over-simple and exaggerated with several ``NEVERS,'' but if followed, it would eliminate a lot of rip-offs.
1. Never participate in sweepstake offers either through the mail or over the phone. The odds of winning are terrible and many are out-and-out scams.
2. Never buy anything over the phone unless you initiate the call. If a stranger calls you and asks you to buy or invest or donate, hang up the phone.
3. Shop in your own back yard. Decide what products you want and then find local merchants in the yellow pages to buy from.
4. Never make a buying decision based upon emotion. Don't let a salesperson convince you to ``do it for your kids -- or your grandkids.''
5. Before buying from a business, find out:
- the age of the business
- where it is located and for how long
- who has done business there before. Talk to them about the business.
- if any complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau or the attorney general's office.
6. Never buy anything from a door-to-door salesperson, especially someone purporting to be a contractor or a yard worker.
7. Never make a buying decision at the time of the sales pitch. Have your own personal rule that you have a three-day cooling off period before deciding whether or not to buy.
8. Before making a charitable contribution, ask for and review written financial reports of the charity to find out where your money is going.
9. Ask for advice from a friend or family member before deciding to buy something.
10. The most successful fraud pitch in the United States today is ``Congratulations, you've won.'' Don't fall for it. There is nothing free in the marketplace, and if someone tells you otherwise, the person is lying.
I also recommend a simple, practical, easy-to-read crime-prevention book titled ``Bug Off! 50 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself from Burglars, Thieves, Muggers, Con-artists & Other Lowlifes,'' by Jim Mantice. It's available at bookstores for $5.95.
-- If you have a question or comment for ``Sense for Seniors,'' write to Betty Gibb, Kansas Senior Press Service, 11875 S. Sunset, Suite 200, Olathe 66061.