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Beware of door-to-door sales and telemarketing scams targeting seniors

Senior citizens make up one-twelfth of the population in Minnesota, but are often disproportionately targeted for fraud over the telephone and at their doorstep.

The Attorney General's Office gives senior citizens the following advice when it comes to unsolicited door-to-door callers and telemarketers:

• Don't be swayed by unknown callers that try to scare you.

Some companies try to use fear tactics to sell you their goods.

For example, one company convinced some seniors to buy an unlicensed long-term care insurance policy by citing to the high cost of nursing homes.

Another company talked about a rash of burglaries to sell security alarms.

Yet another tried to sell medical safety products by talking about medical errors in hospitals.

While many people have legitimate medical and personal safety concerns as they age, the best way to deal with these concerns is to seek out reputable companies that offer meaningful products at a fair price.

• Just hang up or shut the door.

Many people want to be "Minnesota Nice" and not hang up or shut the door on unknown callers.

Pushy salespeople try to use your good manners against you in order to talk their way into your home or get you to give out your banking information on the phone.

• Know your rights.

Under Minnesota's Personal Solicitation of Sales Act, salespeople who make "cold calls" at the doorsteps of Minnesota residents must clearly and expressly disclose: (1) their name, (2) the name of the business they represent, (3) the goods or services they wish to sell, (4) that they wish to sell those goods, and (5) they must show you identification with the sales agent's name and the name of the business represented -- before asking you any questions or making any other statements. In addition, under Minnesota's Right to Cancel law, you only have three days to cancel most door-to-door sales involving personal goods or services.