Some suggestions for useful information you can store on your phone.cell-phones-2

This graphic is adapted from a handout from a non-profit called “Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters” that provided emergency preparedness training. Unfortunately they are no longer in business but their information is still useful.

How to Recognize & Avoid Scams

How to Avoid Scams

Notes from a talk by California Legal Aid of San Mateo County

August 15 at the County Law Library, Redwood City


This talk was basically a list of “don’t do this” items. Remember that senior citizens tend to be more trusting and therefore more vulnerable to scams.


Some overall guidelines:

Don’t give money based on a promise to deliver something in return, except for legitimate businesses. This includes advertisements on TV, phone, email, or web site solicitations.

Don’t give strangers your personal information, such as, Social Security Number, Driver’s License Number, Bank Account Numbers, Credit/Debit Card Numbers, Phone Number, Mailing/Residential Address, City of Birth, Mother’s Maiden Name, etc.

If someone is asking you to get involved with something that is “urgent” or must be keep a secret, that should be a warning sign of a scam.

Some common scams:

  • A grandchild, friend, or other relative is stranded or in trouble, often in a foreign country, and needs money. Usually this is done via a phone call or email.
  • You have won a prize but must send money to receive it.
  • You receive a large check but you are asked for money to cover expenses, pay taxes, or other fees. The check may be accepted by a bank but will turn out to be worthless.
  • Someone will offer to help with debt management. They will consolidate your bills and offer to pay them for a small fee. The fee will turn out to be large or one of several fees. They will take your consolidated monthly payment and never send it to your real creditors and you will start getting payment demands from them.
  • You receive jewelry or other goods and then get charged for it. If someone sends you something without your having ordered it, you are not liable for payment.
  • You are offered a free lunch or a lecture. They will try to get your personal information and/or try to sell you something, such as, insurance, a time share, or other goods or services you don’t need.
  • If you bring your car in for service or repair, the shop must provide a quote for each item that is to be repaired. If the shop does a repair without your approval you are not liable for it.
  • You may get an offer to refinance an equity using a complicated financial arrangement or service.
  • You may get email offers from people or companies you don’t know.
  • You may get an offer for home repairs from someone who claims to be a contractor working nearby who has leftover material and offers you a deal. You will be asked to pay them up front and then never see them again. Or they may come back and do a little work but demand a payment each time. The work may be substandard or faked.
  • A towing company may take your car away because of parking overtime. You must be informed before your car is towed for overtime parking.
  • A friend or family member may ask to borrow your credit/debit card and offer to pay you back. You may not get paid and they will have your account information.
  • Never sponsor someone for a credit card.
  • Never co-sign a loan for any more money than you can afford to lose.
  • Be very careful of giving Power of Attorney to someone, even a family member. They will essentially have access to all your assets.
  • A cemetery company may call you to offer a deal on a plot. The company may not exist.
  • A Land Auction company may call to offer a deal on a parcel of land. The land may or may not exist and if it really does exist it may not be for sale.