Department of Financial Institutions
Paducah Seniors Get Information at Scam Jam
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2008) – More than 100 Paducah-area seniors took advantage of a free seminar on fraud awareness Tuesday at the Senior Scam Jam.
During the first half of the program, participants chose two of three workshops covering mail fraud (presented by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service), home improvement fraud (presented by the Paducah Police Department) and predatory lending (presented by the Department of Financial Institutions, or DFI). After lunch, the entire group heard presentations covering investment fraud (DFI and AARP) and identity theft (Kentucky Attorney General’s Office). All participants received free handouts and materials, including a contact sheet so seniors would know who to call with questions.
The Senior Scam Jam is designed to raise awareness about some of the techniques con artists use, so seniors can recognize the tactics and protect themselves.
On Tuesday, participants learned to recognize these common “red flags” of fraud:
- Special guarantees (in investing or sweepstakes)
- Promises of no risk with high rewards/returns
- Offers for a “limited time” only
- Offers for YOU only
- Pressure by the salesperson to give an immediate response
- Requirements for an advance payment, or “cash only” accepted
- Promises to get you the paperwork "later"
- The company or a representative cannot be reached if you have questions
- The offer sounds too good to be true
The following are some steps seniors learned to take to avoid falling victim to fraud:
- Take your time
- Do your homework before signing any contract (lending, investing or otherwise)
- Read the fine print
- Check out the source
- Be skeptical of unsolicited calls
- Have a plan to get off the phone
- Have a "buddy" – someone to help get you out of a situation where you feel pressured
- Don’t trust testimonials
Bill Harned, AARP Executive Council volunteer, said, "When seniors leave our scam jams, they are better prepared to protect themselves from con artists that prey on older, vulnerable adults. Educating consumers about today's frauds and scams is the best prevention."
On the evaluation forms, attendees rated the overall program highly, and many commented that the seminar was very informative and could keep them from becoming a victim in the future.
“It increased my awareness of how thieves think,” wrote one participant.
“It taught me what and how to listen and look for,” wrote another. “It will truly help me keep ears and eyes open for any type of fraud.”
The Senior Scam Jam is funded by a grant from the Investor Protection Trust and the AARP Foundation and is brought to Kentucky seniors by the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing. Find out more at: www.kfi.ky.gov/consumerinformation/cwsi.htm.
DFI is an agency in the Public Protection Cabinet. It supervises the financial services industry by examining, chartering, licensing and registering various financial institutions, securities firms and professionals operating in Kentucky. DFI’s mission is to serve the public through effective and efficient regulation that promotes consumer confidence and economic growth. DFI is committed to providing financial education and promoting awareness about the importance of saving, investing and making wise personal financial decisions.
AARP volunteer Bill Harned, left, welcomes seniors to the Paducah Senior Scam Jam on Nov. 18. Other presenters, including those from the Department of Financial Institutions, prepare to address the audience.
Photo taken by AARP