With the wide use of computerized mailing lists, unscrupulous marketers can target specific market segments for scams or questionable products. Older adults are often the target of scams involving misleading information that appears to be from a government agency or that offers what appears to be something for free but is actually part of a profit-making scheme.
In some cases, services that the government provides at no cost may be offered for a fee. Some charitable solicitations are also disguised efforts by telemarketers to gouge consumers, with little of the collected money distributed to the charity.
MAIL SOLICITATIONS: Policy
Policymakers should enact consumer protections and should eliminate deceptive practices. Mail solicitations should not appear to come from the government. Deceptive and misleading games-of-chance mailings, including sweepstakes, should be eliminated.
Charities should be required to disclose what portion of public contributions is spent on activities related to the group’s charitable purpose. This will help deter fraudulent use of charity look-alike names for solicitation. It will also better inform consumers.
The Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other regulatory officials should vigorously enforce applicable laws and regulations as well as intensify efforts to increase consumer awareness of fraudulent tactics.