How to Stop Fraud: Trouble is Knocking at the Front Door

This is part one of a series of articles about fraud.


Your castle, their target. As your most valuable possession and likely, biggest financial investment your home is an attractive bullseye for fraudsters. Why? They know you’ll take extra care (and spend extra dollars) to protect and maintain its value. And if you’re a retiree at home, con men see you as easy prey because you have more time to heed pitches that arrive in the mail or at your front door. The schemes are varied. Here are some of the most popular home scams that have been showing up around the country and what you can do to protect yourself.

Have you ever been told that your utility service will be cut off because of unpaid bills? Expect that news, if legitimate, to arrive by mail–not via phone or through in-person demands for payment with prepaid debit gift cards. One of the latest utility scams is for an impostor cable company rep to offer a service discount if you pay months in advance with gift cards.

A home security system may thwart some crooks but attract others. Posing as technicians for security companies, some scammers claim they need to repair your alarm system. Then they deactivate it for a later burglary. Also, if you have a GPS device in your car, don’t label your address as “home.” That steers parking lot thieves straight to your residence while you’re away.

Beware the unsolicited contractor who tells you he’s working in the neighborhood and just happened to notice a home repair that you need. Some seek upfront payment or large deposits to “go buy materials” before vanishing. Another favorite trick is “resealing your driveway” by spreading used motor oil on it.

Whether it’s overpriced magazine subscriptions, home products on a “limited time” offer or a heartfelt plea for a charity, think trouble. Your best defense: never provide a credit card, check or personal information to a  stranger at the front door.

Series of Articles on Fraud

The Cleveland Police Foundation, in partnership with the Cleveland Division of Police and the Ohio Crime Prevention Association present these tips so citizens can help to make our community safer.


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