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Don’t Get Taken: Avoiding Frauds, Scams, and Con Artists

Program Description

It never hurts to err on the side of caution. Usually if something sounds too good to be true, chances are that it is. Patrons who may have lived a majority of their lives in more trusting times will be advised of the tricks criminals use to steal from unsuspecting prey.


  • How to spot a con artist.
  • Avoiding various scams, including those involving telemarketing, health, home improvements, the securities
    industry, crooked lawyers, nursing homes, mail fraud, home equity, as well as fraud and abuse by friends and family.
  • What to do if you think you are being scammed.


  • Office of the Montana Attorney General. Contact this office at www.doj.mt.gov.
  • Representative of the Better Business Bureau: www.lookup.bbb.org. Entering your zip code will connect you with the office nearest your library.
  • A representative from the local law enforcement department.
  • Consumer protection specialist of the Federal Trade Commission. Contact them at (877) 382-4357 to locate a speaker.
  • Representative from AARP.


  • Length - 1 hour.
  • Auditorium-style seating.
  • Preparation time - 2 hours. Add 30 minutes if you decide to "Make It Special."

Learn More About It

  • Camille, Pamela. Getting Older, Getting Fleeced...and How to Avoid It. Santa Barbara: Fithian Press, 1996.
  • Cohen, William S. Easy Prey: The Fleecing of America's Senior Citizens...and How to Stop It. New York: Marlowe, 1997.
  • Crime: Senior Alert. 2nd ed. 20½ min. Chicago: Terra Nova Films. Videorecording.
  • The Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Affairs Division: (http://ftc.gov)
  • Quackwatch, a Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and Intelligent Decisions: (http://www.quackwatch.com).

Make It Special

The Securities Division of the Secretary of State's Office offers a number of free publications of interest to older adults. The Federal Trade Commission (http://ftc.gov) produces many topical brochures on consumer affairs. They will give up to 500 copies free of charge to organizations such as libraries. The topics are varied, and many are of interest to older adults. Download the order sheet or compile a list of topics of interest to participants. A list of available titles and directions for ordering (click on "Instructions for ordering printed copies of our publications") is available from the commission.

Market It

Distribute flyers and information to senior centers, banks, shopping centers, health care facilities, and local places of employment.

Reprinted with permission from the Missouri State Library and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov