WISER's "Too Good To Be True" Checklist

Phrases and Promises that Probably Mean "It's Too Good to Be True"

Here's a check list of phrases that scam artists use and offers they make. Next time you hear one of these you can just say, "Sorry, I know it's too good to be true."

"We'll give you a free lunch and teach you how to invest your money."
Don't let a free lunch and some well-dressed, well-spoken sales persons pressure you. Don't purchase financial products that you don't understand or need.

"I'm a ‘Senior Certified Advisor' and I have some wonderful investment products for a person just your age."

Watch out for people using educational titles that imply they are "certified" as experts in financial matters specifically related to seniors. They are using titles to convince you of their "expertise," but there is no such designation. To find out more about legitimate financial professional designations, visit FINRA's website.

"You've just won $10,000. If you give me your bank account number, we can put it right in the bank for you."

Never give out any account numbers to anyone over the phone or to anyone you don't know.

"We can erase your bad credit score."
You can take steps to pay down your debt and get your finances back under control, but it will not be easy and it won't be accomplished in a day. So, don't pay someone who says that it can. They are probably trying to sell you a high interest loan.

"The IRS has made an error in your taxes and will refund the money if you fill in your Social Security number on the attached form."
This request may come in an official-looking envelope, but the IRS already knows your Social Security number . Don't fall for this one.

Be Suspicious of Urgent Demands:

•"You must decide right now."
• "Just sign here."
• "All you have to do is give me your credit card number to confirm."
• "Give me your Social Security number and we will correct the error."
• "You will regret it if you don't accept this offer right now."
• "Give me the cash up front."


Look out for your friends and loved ones. Here are some examples of what elder financial abuse looks like:
(If you notice the following trends, it could be a sign of financial abuse.)

  • failure to pay bills
  • eviction notices
  • shut-off of utilities
  • large amounts of money withdrawn or transferred from bank accounts
  • missing personal property/belongings
  • isolation of the elder from friends or other family members
  • individual close to the elder having an increased interest in his/her financial situation
  • abrupt changes in lifestyle such as unusual purchases, lack of food, or unnecessary home repair


Take Action!


* Adult Protective Services responds to reported cases of elder abuse by investigating the claims and intervening to help the elder protect him/herself. Each state has a toll-free elder abuse hotline that you can call to report abuse, even if it is occuring in a facility. Find the APS office in your state by visiting the National Adult Protective Services Association website: napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/

*The National Center on Elder Abuse is a program of the U.S. Administration on Aging and provides the latest information regarding research, training, best practices, news and resources on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation to professionals and the public: www.ncea.acl.gov

* You can also call the Eldercare Locator to connect you to local services that offer assistance at 1-800-677-1116, or visit eldercare.gov.


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