Experts estimate that consumers lose more than $100 billion annually to a broad assortment of frauds, cons and scams. Fraudulent telemarketing and direct mail appeals account for $40 billion of this total.
Alarmingly, the elderly are a major target for con artists, especially phony fundraisers and for cons offering bogus investment and insurance schemes. What can you do:
If a caller asks for your credit card, bank account or social security number to verify a free vacation, a prize, or gift, say "No" and hang up.
If you are calling a 900 number in response to an advertisement or something you received in the mail, make sure you know all the charges up front.
Before you agree to support a charity that calls seeking money, ask for written information about its finances and programs. If you feel you've been scammed, call the police or Better Business Bureau. Remember: consumer fraud is a crime. Finally, an offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.