The Seniors vs. Crime Project is concerned that buyers may have difficulty making intelligent decisions when choices are so varied.  We thought some guidelines might be helpful.  Click on the below links to find your guide.
Seniors vs Crime- Top Tips

Keeping your money safe

Use personal checks wisely. Most of the information needed for ID theft is on a check.
If you need to wire money, go to your personal bank. They have ways to track your money after it is sent that independent companies do not do.
Never give your credit card or bank account information over the phone to anyone who calls you. Only if you initiate the call will you know who you are speaking with.
You have 30 days to dispute credit card charges. After that time the bank considers the transaction consensual. Read your banking statements.
Check your receipts BEFORE leaving the register in stores for a “cash back” amount. Make certain it is correct. If not, ask for a manager immediately.
If you are concerned someone may “scan” your credit card for numbers, place a piece of aluminum foil close to your card. This will make it unreadable.
Check on an investment of charity before giving. Do not allow them to “send you information."

Keeping you safe

Do not open the door to solicitors, but DO let them know you are home if they call on you.
Post a NO SOLICITORS sign. Florida Statute #496 especially 496.410 controls solicitors bothering you.
Close your garage door when you are done inside the garage.
Keep your vehicle locked.
Keep your doors locked.
Stay in well lit areas.
Ask for an escort to your vehicle from the store you just frequented if you feel unsure.  Many stores will permit their security to escort you.

Annoying callers

The best defense we have found against solicitors who wish to call you over and over again.
Ignore the call if you can.
Tell them you are glad they called. You are bored and start talking about your health, make up stories about your cat (even if you do not have one), etc.
Tell them you think it is a sign from God that they called you and give them your “testimony” or “witness”.
Hang up!
If they hang up on you, you have won. They will not call you again!

Research a business online

BBB.org
Go to http://www.bbb.org
Search for the business in your locale.
Read the comments.  Do not stop at the summary rating. We have found some companies that have many complaints and yet still have an 'A' or 'B' rating.
The comments and complaints can alert you if the deal is "too good to be true."
Search engine
Another way to research the web about a company or charity would be to go to your favorite search engine, like Google, and type in the name you are researching followed by one of the following terms, "scam". "fraud, or "complaint" and see what comes up.
Vehicles
  •  Make/Model:  Examples; Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Volkswagen.   Research Make/Model + Recall, Research Make/Model + Safety Rating.

  • Size:  Examples; 2 Door, 4 Door, SUV, Van, Truck, Motorcycle, Seating, Trunk vs Hatchback.

  • Color:  Self-Explanatory. Does it matter to you? What color do you NOT want?

  • Price:  Trade in value vs selling the used car separately. What is your budget? Research prices.

  • New, Used or Lease:  Each have perks. Make sure you research what you want carefully. Leases can be tricky.

  • Accessories:  Air Conditioning, Power Steering, Automatic vs Standard (Stick Shift), Anti Lock Brakes, Power Windows, Power Locks, Theft Deterrent System, Cruise Control, Interior (cloth, leather, etc..), Power Seats.

  • Warranty:  New Cars will have manufacturer warranty in place. Used- Is there a preexisting manufacturer or extended? Do you want the extended? Is it worth it?

  • Financing:   Do you have money to put down? Have you contacted your personal bank about a loan? Get “pre-approved” if possible. The dealership will try to match or beat that APR so they get your money. Know your credit score before you go. Ask your bank about their APR for you. Research the current trend in APR for cars both new and used. 

  • Protecting yourself when buying a car:

    • Do not shop alone.
    • Do not give the dealership your keys for a car wash or oil change. (exception is if they need to verify the quality of your trade.)
    • Know the “blue book” value of your current car if you plan on trading.
    • Allow yourself ample time so you do not feel any time pressure. (eat first, bring a drink, bring a book, puzzles, etc.. do not bring children)
    • Avoid “too good to be true” specials, like ‘final days’ or ‘clearance’ or ‘several buyers are interested’.
    • Have an exit plan or code word if you are ready to leave. “I need a breather” works well.
    • Ask if you can take the car of your interest to an unaffiliated mechanic. (for used)
    • Be ready to walk away. There are many cars out there!
    • Always get a “car-facts” for used vehicles.

Appliances

  • What are you shopping for? Refrigerator, Dish Washer, Washer/Dryer, Trash Compactor, etc..

  • If you are replacing a current appliance, what size is the one you have now? Measurements.

  • What is your price range?

  • What special features are you looking for, if any? “Side by Side” Doors, Ice Maker, Freezer on the top or on the bottom, Energy Efficient, Compact, etc...

  • How important is that special feature to you? How much extra are you willing to pay to have it?

  • What type of electrical service do you currently have in place? Will you need to “upgrade” your current outlet or need an electrician?

  • Do you want/need delivery and/or set-up? Research fair market value of delivery and set up.

  • Make a plan not to buy on the first day. Collect data about what you see and research what you want.

  • Do not shop alone so that you will be less likely to be taken in by high pressure sales.

  • Look up the brands and models you saw and liked for repairs, problems, reviews.

  • Get written estimates so you can compare prices.

  • Measure your space so you know what you buy will fit.

  • Weight the pros and cons of rebates. How long will they take? How much hassle will it be to complete?

  • Have an exit plan or keyword/phrase that you and your companion know means you wish to leave.

Mattresses

  • What size do you currently use? Do you want the same size or one bigger/smaller? Examples: Twin, Full, Queen, King.

  • What brand are you looking for (if there is a preference)? Examples: Sealy, Serta, Sleep Number, etc

  • What Style are you looking for? (if there is a preference)? Examples: Pillow Top, Firm, Memory Foam, Adjustable, etc..

  • Will your new mattress fit your existing frame or do you need to shop for different one?

  • Are you replacing both the mattress and box spring or just the mattress?