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Staying safe in your golden years

Published November 27. 2009 05:00PM

Older people are often targeted by criminals who are skilled at gaining their confidence. Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has created a "Senior Crime Prevention University" to help keep residents safe in their golden years. If you suspect a scam, call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-441-2555.

Here are a few simple tips to post on your refrigerator door:

Home Improvement:

Always get a contract that includes:

• The exact price of the work to be done

• Start and end dates

• The exact work to be completed

• The name and address of the contractor

• A three day right to cancel notice.

Be suspicious of contractors that list only a P.O. Box for their address.

Don't allow contractors to use scare tactics to get you to sign a contract.

Be suspicious of businesses that offer you discount rates due to left over materials from another job or because you are a senior citizen.

Get at least three estimates.

Ask for references and check them.


Be skeptical of calls claiming you won a contest you don't remember entering.

Don't give out credit card information over the phone.

Legitimate contests don't require you to make a purchase to win a prize.

Telemarketers must identify themselves and the name of their company up front.

Also sign up for Pennsylvania's Do Not Call list by calling 1-888-777-3406 or by logging on to


It is a federal criminal offense to sell and traffic in foreign lottery tickets.

Beware of someone requiring you to pay in advance to get your winnings.

Be leery of calls claiming you won a contest you don't remember entering.

Financial Scams:

Beware of people selling door to door.

Never sign a contract or sales agreement without reviewing it with someone you trust first.

Don't give in to high pressure sales tactics.

Beware of anyone presenting living trusts as the best method to handle your estate.

Contact your attorney to discuss which is the best option for you.

Remember the cooling off rule you have three days to cancel any contract that you sign at home.

Always check with your local Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General's Office before entering into any business relationship.

Source: Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General

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