The holiday season may bring families together for celebration, but it is also the time of year when many elder scams occur. There are predators looking to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors…asking for gifts, donations, or assistance from unknowing older adults. Be alert. Some might knock on the house door. Most will occur via phone.

Telemarketing Scams:
— Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company.
— Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.
— Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
— Always take your time in making a decision.
— If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

Home Repairs, or Contractor Fraud:
— Be an informed consumer – know who you are doing business with. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.
— Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
— Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.
— As a general rule take control of all of your transactions as a consumer.
— Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. Or visit their website at: http://www.eldercare.gov.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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