Elderly on Mailing Lists

OCTOBER 31, 1994 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 17

The American Association of Retired Persons is warning its members about mail-order scams. According to the AARP, mail-order con artists have begun to aggressively target elderly people.

Mail solicitations, sometimes involving bogus offers, “sweepstakes” and questionable health remedies and safety items, are showing up with accelerating frequency in the mail boxes of the elderly. Elderly recipients are particularly vulnerable to such tactics, says the AARP, because they tend to be more trusting, they often live alone and they have fewer ways of checking out the validity of the offers or representations.

A study funded by AARP categorized one-third of those over 75 as “highly vulnerable” to fraud. That compares to 24% with the same classification among those age 65 to 75, and 7% of those younger than 65. In addition, elderly consumers tend to be more passive after they have been duped. Twenty percent of those over age 65 say they have never demanded a refund, filed a complaint or taken similar action against a company. Among younger consumers, only 8% have been so consistently forgiving.

Hispanics Singled Out

At the same time, another group indicates that telemarketing scams have particularly focused on hispanics. Since many hispanics lack English proficiency, and since they tend not to report fraud, hispanics have been frequent victims.

The National Council of La Raza has announced a new campaign aimed at teaching hispanic consumers how to spot, stop and report telemarketing fraud. The program includes counsellors who speak Spanish and public service information. La Raza’s hotline can be reached at (800) 876-7060.

Take Stock/Take Charge

A new program aimed at health promotion and disease prevention among the elderly has been announced by Jewish Family and Children’s Service, with funding from United Way. The program involves interactive educational seminars entitled “Take Stock/Take Charge ” aimed at those age 55 or older.

The seminars will utilize what is billed as a holistic approach, focusing on disease prevention topics with activities designed to promote independent functioning and decision-making capacity. Particular emphasis will be given to the importance of early detection, regular examinations, nutrition, exercise, immunizations, rest and relaxation, home and auto safety and medication management. Seminars can be arranged for senior groups by contacting Gina Gills through JFCS at 795-0300.

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