Scams more frequent Age Concern warns

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Waitaki has a large elderly population and with scams targeting older people becoming more frequent, residents need to learn how to protect themselves, Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer says.

Mr Stringer said older people needed to be aware that people calling with good offers may not always be genuine.

“The general rule of thumb is if it is too good to be true then it probably is.”

Elderly people should also have a friend, family member of someone from Age Concern present during any sales transaction they do not feel comfortable with.

However Mr Stringer said many people who were scamming over the phone or making appointments for pressure sales would target retirement villages where a number of residents had dementia meaning they often did not understand what was happening.

If someone did make a purchase without understanding the transaction properly they could contact Age Concern who would talk to the company on their behalf to argue that the transaction was not valid as it was made with uninformed consent, he said.

The co-ordinator said he found that scam calls and pressures sales were happening more often because of the current financial market and they were targeting more vulnerable, elderly people because they made easier sales.

“People have got to sell things.”

An 85-year-old Oamaru woman, who does not want to be named, had a company try to sell her a $17,500 massage chair last month and wants people to be aware of pressure sales.

Someone called her to make an appointment and she thought it was her local healthcare organisation sending a physio to her home.

The man spent an hour with her testing the massage chair which she thought was wonderful but she did not realise he was trying to sell it, she said.

“He never actually said he was from any business trying to sell things.”

When he said told her the price and said she could pay it off weekly she was stunned and felt if she “hadn’t been clear in the head” she might have got trapped into a purchase she could not afford.

Anyone with concerns about a transaction or scam can contact Age Concern Waitaki on 434 7008.

By RUBY HARFIELD