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Silence Isn't Golden - Help Stop Elder Abuse

You can help stop elder abuse.

Silence isn't golden.

If you suspect elder abuse call:
1-800-490-8505

2019 Fraud Alerts

December 2019

Let the "Reindeer Games" Begin

Thanksgiving Day seems to blow the (virtual) whistle for the start of the holiday shopping marathon! Good luck and be careful out there! Consumers need to be on guard at all times when shopping for holiday gifts online, by phone or by mail, or through local brick and mortar stores. Below are some useful tips to keep you and your wallet safe during the holiday shopping spree.

Ads & Sales

  • Read store ads carefully. Is the store offering sale items at a limited quantity? Can you get a rain check if it’s an out-of-stock sale item?
  • Take the ad with you when you go shopping to make sure you find the right item at the price advertised.
  • Focus on bottom-line prices, not discounts. Discount claims may not reflect real savings, if the seller inflated the original price of an item and then discounted it to make the “discount price” appear as a bargain.

The Seller

  • Buy from a seller that you trust.  Whether the seller is down the street or across the country, know who you are buying from. Be wary of online retailers that do not disclose contact information, including a phone number and physical address.
  • Understand the seller’s return and refund policies. How long do you have to return the item? Will you get a full refund, store credit, or nothing? Is there a restocking fee? Do you need a receipt and the product packaging? If the seller ships an item that you later decide to return, who pays for shipping?
  • If you’re making an online purchase, make sure it’s a secure website. Secure sites use an “https” prefix in their web address. The “s” stands for secure, which means the site is not secure without it! Don’t email financial information, such as credit card or bank account numbers.
  • If ordering online or by phone, use a credit card because credit cards generally offer consumers better protection in cases of fraud or disputes. Only give credit card numbers to sellers that you know and that you have called. Review your monthly statements to ensure the charges are correct. Avoid using a debit card, because debit transactions draw directly from your bank account. Do not wire money or send cash.
  • If it’s a mail or phone order, the merchant is required to ship the item within 30 days of receiving the order, unless the seller clearly discloses a longer wait in advertisements or catalog. If the merchant cannot meet the 30-day deadline, the seller must disclose it to the customer and offer the option of a cancellation and full refund.
  • If you’re buying through a layaway, be sure you understand the policies, including any additional fees or restrictions, and cancellation policies.

Warranties & Extended Warranties

  • How long does the seller warranty the product? Does a seller’s warranty go beyond the manufacturer’s warranty?
  • Think carefully about extended warranties and service agreements. Be sure to understand the terms, including what is and is not covered. Extended warranties often mean add-on profits for sellers, but they can also offer peace of mind for the buyer and convenience if the product breaks during the warranty period.

Gift Cards

  • Understand the terms. Does the merchant charge a gift card purchase fee? Does the merchant charge an inactivity fee (which is allowed after 12 months of inactivity)?
  • The card must clearly disclose the expiration date, and fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging. Gift cards must be good for five years from the purchase date, or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card.
  • Urge the recipient to use the card sooner rather than later to avoid loss, theft, and future inactivity fees. And keep your receipts, or give the recipient a receipt in case of problems down the road.

Monthly Fraud Alerts brought to you by:
Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force

Bucks County District Attorney’s Office
215-348-6344

A Woman’s Place (AWP)
800-220-8116

Bucks County Area Agency on Aging
267-880-5700

Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection
215-348-6060

Bucks County Coroner’s Office
267-880-5040

Bucks County Register of Wills
215-348-6265

Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA)
800-675-6900

US Department of Health and Human Services/OIG
800-447-8477

24-Hour Hotline: 800-490-8505

December 2019 - Let the "Reindeer Games" Begin

November 2019 - 'Tis the Season of Scams

August 2019 - "There's No Place Like Home..." Are You Prepared?

July 2019 - Tech Scams and Fraud

June 2019 - Storm Damage Contractors

May 2019 - Social Media Recommendations

April 2019 - Traveling Contractors

March 2019 - Ghost Tax Preparers

February 2019 - IRS Tax Scam

January 2019 - Sheriff Deputy Scam

Fraud Alerts

The Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force issues regular alerts on fraudulent practices and scams that could impact older adults. This information comes from local news sources and government agencies and is offered as a public service.

To see past Fraud Alerts, please go to the Fraud Alerts Archives.