Tell Congress to stop Rx greed and cut prices now! Here’s how.
by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, September 20, 2010
Many contests, sweepstakes and lotteries come with a catch. After the lucky winner sends a requested fee—usually for "taxes" or "insurance" on the promised windfall—he or she gets nothing in return except a smaller bank account.
The problem is, many victims don't realize they're being scammed. They just want to keep going.
Bogus games are a worry for adult children whose parents habitually respond to such offers. Says Susan Slater, 68, of Massachusetts: "My 94-year-old mother receives several mail requests per day with promises of winning money. She is positive that most are real, and is spending much of her time opening the envelopes, reading in detail, and worrying over losing the contests if she doesn't enter on time."
Where children often go wrong, says Laura Carstensen, director of Stanford University's Center on Longevity, is in getting upset at a parent's actions, and making comments such as "How can you fall for this?" or "Don't be stupid; it's clearly a scam."
This reaction only makes "the elders pull away from you," says Carstensen—especially if it's followed by threats to take over their finances or get power of attorney. It drives a wedge between victims and people who might protect them.
There are better ways to prevent rip-offs of habitual contest entrants:
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life (AARP Books/Sterling).
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Get tips and resources to protect yourself from fraud and see the latest scam alerts in your state.
Members save 15% on in-store purchases of frozen yogurt, treats and apparel.
Exclusive program for members from The Hartford.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at