Older adults are often deliberate targets of scammers and fraudulent activity because they are more likely to live alone and frequently depend on others to take care of finances and personal matters. Older adults are also less likely to report fraud because they don’t know where to report it and are often too ashamed at having been scammed. To help combat this trend, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and its boards and bureaus provide resources for older adults, with materials and programs designed to help you protect yourself and make informed decisions on everything from automotive services to hearing aids.
Senior Scam Stopper Seminars
Senior Scam Stopper seminars have been offered throughout the state since 1999. They are administered by DCA’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and are conducted in partnership with California legislators. Seminars provide information on various topics, such as construction-related scams and how older adults can protect themselves when hiring a contractor, as well as how to spot common and high-tech scams that may come by phone, text, or email. Recent events have featured representatives from the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, the California Department of Insurance, and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office Elder Protection Unit. The events are being held virtually through the pandemic. Contact CSLB’s outreach coordinator at (916) 255-4693 for additional details.
DCA offers a wealth of free, educational publications that can be accessed online or mailed, including:
- CSLB’s brochure “What Seniors Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor,” which guides you through the process of selecting and working with a contractor and explains common scams to avoid. CSLB also offers other helpful consumer tools, including the “Find My Licensed Contractor” online resource, which lets you create a personalized list of licensed local contractors from the CSLB website.
- The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board’s brochure “Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids for Adults,” which provides information on the types and degrees of hearing loss and today’s hearing aids, and features a glossary of common terms related to hearing testing, hearing aid technology, and hearing professionals.
- DCA’s Senior Scambuster Kit, offering a quick-reference, pocket-sized packet of materials filled with consumer protection reminders you can keep at your fingertips. Order a free kit with DCA’s publications order form or by calling toll-free (866) 320-8652.
- DCA’s award-winning quarterly magazine Consumer Connection, which provides an in-depth look at various topics of interest to consumers like fraud avoidance, issues on aging and health, end-of-life planning, financial management in later years, and much more. If you’d like to have upcoming issues mailed to you automatically for free, email your name, mailing address, and phone number to ConsumerConnection@dca.ca.gov. You can also order online from DCA’s “Publications” page or call toll-free (866) 320-8652 to subscribe or request specific editions.
Consumer Assistance Center
DCA consumer service representatives can provide assistance over the phone in more than 200 different languages. They can also help you file a complaint and mail helpful publications. The toll-free telephone line is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on the first and third Wednesday of each month, when the center opens at 8:30 a.m. It is closed on state-observed holidays. Call DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210/(800) 326-2297 (TDD).
DCA protects California consumers through oversight, enforcement, and licensure of professions. The Department consists of 36 boards and bureaus that regulate over 3.9 million licenses in more than 250 professions and occupations including doctors, dentists, nurses, and other health care workers, auto shops, contractors, barbers, veterinarians, and more. You can verify the license of any of them at http://search.dca.ca.gov. For more information, visit www.dca.ca.gov.