BOSTON (CBS) – Every year thousands of people lose money to telephone scams, from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money.

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Our elderly are so vulnerable when it comes to phone scams. They are often targeted because the caller assumes they live alone, have a nest egg, are less cynical and may be more polite toward strangers than a 40-year-old.

When the scammer calls they are very friendly, referring to the elder by their first name, making small talk, asking about their family. The caller often claims to be working for an organization or company one knows and would trust such as Medicare.

Our elders need to be warned that if they get a call from someone they don’t know who is trying to sell them something they had not planned on buying that it is okay to just say “no thank you” and hang up.

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Our elders don’t want to be impolite so they don’t hang up. Staying on the line gives the scammer the opportunity to pressure the elder for personal information like a credit card number or Social Security number. Hanging up is the best defense.

Here are a few red flags to help you spot telemarketing scams. If you hear a line that sounds like any of these, say “no, thank you,” hang up, and file a complaint with the FTC:

  • You’ve been specially selected for this offer.
  • You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
  • You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You trust me, right?
  • You don’t need to check out our company with anyone.
  • We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.
  • This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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