Senior Connection is offering free guides on how seniors can avoid costly mistakes when purchasing products and services.

Featured in the guide is information on consumer rights and protections for a wide range of products, from auto repair to investments to funeral services to shopping on the Internet.

The information can help seniors avoid costly mistakes and scams when shopping for unfamiliar products. Seniors who believe they have been taken advantage of by a business can call the organization to be referred to the appropriate agency to file a complaint.

“Many seniors call in concerned about getting ‘cheated’ because they are seniors. Often times they have been taken advantage of in the past by a business and are wary about trusting businesses they are unfamiliar with,” commented Ralph Foster, a volunteer with Senior Connection, a specialized senior citizen information center, in a recent press release.

“This gives seniors information that can help them make informed decisions and recognize dishonest business practices before it is too late.”

A new area for many elderly people to find bargains and rip-offs is the Internet. Recent polls have shown a dramatic increase in the number of people over the age of 65 regularly accessing the Internet, according to the release. New users may not know how to distinguish legitimate offers, the risks associated with online auctions or scams.

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“Stop. Think. Click.,” an informational brochure developed by the FTC and available through Senior Connection, gives people practical tips for avoiding new Internet consumer mistakes.

For information about consumer rights or issues, or for a copy of the guide, contact the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizen’s Senior Connection at (800) 510-2020 or 928-2552 in Santa Maria.

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