Too many seniors still fall for telemarketing scams

Burnaby, October 1 2007: Because too many seniors are ?falling through the cracks? and because old scams frequently take on a new look, BC Crime Prevention Association is renewing its efforts to reduce telemarketing fraud by offering tips to seniors, their families and caregivers on how to avoid becoming a victim of phony prize and lottery scams.

The incident in New Westminster earlier this month, in which two elderly widows lost money to telemarketing fraudsters posing as undercover RCMP members, demonstrates the levels to which scammers will stoop in order to ensnare victims.

Valerie MacLean, BCCPA Executive Director, points out that ?with the rising proportion of seniors expected in the coming years, there will, unfortunately, be more seniors caught by these scams. We feel duty bound as the provincial crime prevention association to re-issue warnings to seniors in the hope that, not only the elderly and vulnerable will get the message, but also that the families and caregivers of seniors will do their part,? she said. ?We must vigorously pursue our public education campaign at the risk of being repetitious,? she added ?because the financial consequences and other outcomes can be devastating to our senior population.?

The BCCPA offers the following tips:

· Police officers do not under any circumstances solicit money

· No matter how overwhelming it may be to speak to someone purporting to be a ?police officer? do not assume his authenticity over the phone. Note his name, rank, law enforcement agency and phone number and call that agency back on a published/listed number.

· Disregard the glitz and glitter of a promise that you are a sweepstakes winner and ask yourself the question ?If I didn?t enter a contest, why are they calling me??

· Family members and caregivers can do more to protect elderly members by explaining the dynamics of common scams that target the elderly.

· Names of seniors who are predisposed to entering contests find their way onto ?sucker? lists. The amount of unsolicited junk mail (and phone calls) that targets seniors – a principle source for compiling these lists – can be reduced considerably by contacting the Canadian Direct Marketing Association at (416) 391 2362 or via their website at www.the-cma.org to be added to the DO NOT MAIL/DO NOT CALL list.

· Groups of seniors who would like to arrange for workshops that deal specifically with fraudulent telemarketing can contact the BC Hydro Power Pioneers Wise Owls (a BC Crime Prevention Association program) at wiseowlvw@telus.net or through the BCCPA Manager of Programs & Projects for more information.

Jeff Burton, BCCPA Manager of Programs & Projects says ?The New Westminster case is a variation on an old theme ? the ?recovery? pitch – in which scammers change hats and pose as police. They trick previous victims into believing that money earlier lost to fraudulent telemarketing scams has been ?recovered? and will be returned to those victims after a fee has been paid.?

BC Crime Prevention Association has a simple form on its website ? Contest Record Sheet ? that seniors can use to keep track of all contests they have entered. The purpose of the form is to make it easy for seniors to say NO and disregard any phone calls or letters about contests that are not on the list. The form is available in PDF format and can be downloaded from the BCCPA Web site at www.bccpa.org. Click on Crime Shield/Seniors Safety.