Today’s seniors and boomers were raised during a time when they were taught to be polite and trusting. Sadly, con artists tend to prey on those who are too trusting, thereby making the senior population a prime target for scams and fraud.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not only is this age group more likely to be a victim of fraud – they also are less likely to report it . Some do not know how to report it and to whom, while others are embarrassed that friends and family will find out they were scammed.
Seniors and boomers who are thinking of downsizing are at particular risk for being scammed. As part of the downsizing process, repair and construction projects may be necessary for those who own a home they wish to sell. According to the Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board, typical repair scams targeting seniors include:
- Roof repair – a few new shingles may be slid under old ones, followed by spraying the roof with oil.
- Sealant – Scammers use a watery liquid or oil as a substitute for a sealant on driveways, fencing or roofing.
- Paving – shoddy materials and craftsmanship will lead to paving that soon breaks apart.
One of the most common scams is called the diversion. How it works is one person will distract the homeowner at the door as they offer services or claim to be there on behalf of a utility company, while another person or persons enters the home and steals cash, jewelry or other items in easy reach.
Red flags include unmarked vehicles with out of state plates, business cards for contractors that do not include a CCB license number or use P.O. boxes for the mailing address and offers of discounts on services if more than one resident in the area agrees to use their services. Homeowners should never agree to pay up front before services are rendered and should not agree to pressure sales tactics from any contractor without taking the time to obtain bids from other companies for the work to be performed.
Homeowners who are unsure if a contractor is properly licensed in the state of Oregon can call 503-378-4621 to verify information and ask about a complaint history. The Better Business Bureau also is a good source of information, as is the Consumer Protection Bureau.