And studies by AARP show that many consumer fraud victims actually put themselves at risk by not taking the steps to protect themselves. Our financial guru Gary Garrison joins us with ways to avoid being ripped off.
1. Never give personal or account information to anyone who contacts you--that means social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers...if you wouldn't put the number on a billboard, don't give it to people who call or email you, no matter who they say they are.
2. Never pay for services before a job is finished to your satisfaction--this applies to home repair or improvement projects especially. If you encounter a person who goes door-to-door soliciting driveway or roof repair, don't give them advance payment. The dishonest ones often ask for partial payment up-front, calling it a deposit, then disappear with your money.
3. Sign up for the national "do not call" list--this is good to do regardless of your age; it's critical that you protect yourself from telemarketing scams. If you haven't signed up for the list yet, go to do not call dot gov and take this easy protective step.
4. Always check credentials of anyone who approaches you trying to sell something-- ask the person for references and check with the Better Business Bureau or the state attorney general's office before doing business with them. If they're legitimate they won't mind waiting while you do your homework.