Never run out of responsibility; if you don’t have one, find one. Find a cause and knock yourself out for it. It will enhance your brainpower and interest in life, and keep you alive longer—Alyse Laemmle, life insurance agent, 96 , quoted in the book 70 Things to do When you turn 70
As an elder law attorney, I see many clients about scam issues. Sometimes, it is before the scam happens, and the individual can be counseled regarding the scam and not act on it. However, unfortunately, some clients are people who have already lost money to the scammers, sometimes even thousands of dollars. The thing is, as we grow older, we think we have the same discrimination ability that we always had. It is hurtful and humiliating to be forced to face that we might not – and that we have fallen for costly scams. Hanging is too good for scammers. They work more than forty-hours a week trying to take money from you!
An article in the AARP Bulletin highlights a type of telemarketing scam that has been showing up more frequently on the Senior Moments radar screen. According to AARP, this scam, aimed at seniors, claims thousands of victims each year. It works like this: using the prospect of instant wealth as bait, con artists posing as Canadian customs officials or lottery executives telephone their prey and convince them they’ve won big money in a lottery or sweepstakes. The catch is that no prize money can be released until the winner pays custom duties, taxes or shipping and handling fees, usually to aWestern Unionoffice inCanada.
These bad guys can cause even more damage if they are able to convince their victims how convenient it is to allow automatic withdrawal of necessary fees from their bank accounts. Once the con artists have access, they can deplete the account. In addition to the telemarketing hoax, there are also con artists pushing foreign lottery tickets via the mail.
Readers should remember that foreign lotteries or sweepstakes contests conducted by mail are illegal in theUnited States. The AARP article quotes C. Steven Baker, director of the Federal Trade Commission’sMidwestregion, saying that phony Canadian lotteries are one of the top two telemarketing scams in theUnited Statesright now. “When someone tells you you’ve won a bunch of money and they want money from you in advance for anything, including a stamp, it’s illegal,” says Baker. “Nobody ever gets any money from this scam.” By the time people or their families realize they have been duped, the bad guys are long gone, and there is no trace of the money.
The AARP Bulletin also points out possible dangers of warranty cards. “Warranty cards that ask for your household income, number of children, hobbies and other personal information are just a way to profile you and sell that information to marketers,” says attorney Mari J. Frank, author of The Identity Theft Survival Kit. That makes you vulnerable to junk mail and spam as well as to identity theft. Frank’s advice is to write only your name, address and the product serial number on the card. “As long as there is a receipt,” she says, “the item is under warranty—whether or not you fill out the warranty card.”
Please be careful. Check the Web site AARP.org and/or the Maryland Attorney General’s site, www.oag.md.gov, for the latest information on scams.
Senior Moments wants to remind you of the Eldercare Locator, which is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Eldercare Locator connects older Americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services. The Locator also links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers. You can sign on to their Web site at www.eldercare.gov, or speak to an Eldercare Locator Information specialist by calling 1-800-677-1116.
Another very helpful and informative Web site belongs to the National Council on Aging, founded in 1950. Their tag line is “promoting vital aging inAmerica.” The Council is a network of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the health and independence of older persons. Their site offers many opportunities for more knowledge and information, including research regarding benefits you could receive. This is the organization that started the foster grandparents program. Their Web site is www.ncoa.org, or you may call their headquarters at 202-479-1200. .
The AARP Driver Safety Program is held periodically at the Bowie Senior Center This is a driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. It is intended to help older drivers improve their skills while teaching them to avoid accidents and traffic violations. Some insurance companies reduce premiums upon proof of completion of the two-day course. The cost is around $20. Check at the senior center for dates. It’s a very popular course so early registration is advised.
Thanks for reading. Stay well. See you next week