National Consumer Protection Week, observed March 6-12, is a federal program designed to heighten awareness of fraud and help consumers improve their ability to combat crime. During NCPW, federal, state, and local consumer protection agencies --- together with consumer organizations and industry associations --- launch consumer protection and education efforts around the country. This year, the Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are partnering to educate postal employees and the general public about scams to which older Americans are increasingly susceptible.
Postal Inspectors want to:
Increase awareness about age-related vulnerabilities that can lead to financial exploitation.
Provide valuable information to postal employees and the general public about the need to protect their own assets as they age, and how to help an older loved one do the same.
Establish a central location where everyone can learn more about helping an older family member or friend who has been taken advantage of — and keep it from happening again.
Anyone can be a victim of a scam, but scammers often target individuals whom they perceive as vulnerable, so older adults tend to be targeted again and again. These crimes take a toll, both financially and emotionally. Financial exploitation can seriously affect the lives of seniors and their families, who are often unaware until it’s too late.
Experts say financial decision-making declines in all older adults to one degree or another, even healthy seniors who don’t suffer from dementia. Declining decisionmaking — especially where money is concerned — is increasingly regarded as a natural part of aging.
During NCPW, Postal Inspectors will discuss how everyone should plan for the day they need an extra set of eyes on their financial affairs. The Postal Inspection Service wants postal employees and consumers to learn more about reducing their exposure to fraud and the deceptive marketing practices frequently directed at older Americans. And if someone’s been victimized by a phony charity or fake prize promotion, Postal Inspectors offer steps that families and friends can take to keep it from happening again.
Persons who expose themselves to sales situations, even legitimate ones, are more likely to be victimized by fraud. Consumers of all ages should start doing this today:
Get a non-published number and install an answering machine with a large caller ID display. Screen all incoming calls. Pick up only if you recognize the caller. Otherwise, let the call roll to the answering machine.
Reduce robocalls and block unwanted telemarketing offers. Visit www.DeliveringTrust.com for details.
Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers by enrolling in the national credit bureaus’ OptOut program. Call (888) 567-8688 or go to www.DeliveringTrust.com and sign up online.
Never enter free prize and sweepstakes drawings.
Never attend free lunch seminars.
Never respond to any solicitation you receive over the Internet.
An educated public is the first line of defense. Visit www.DeliveringTrust.com for more information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones from fraud.
— Criminal Investigations Group, Postal Inspection Service, 2-18-16