Skip to main content

Ripping Off Seniors


My ninety year old mother-in-law lives with us.  She is generally in good health, and her memory and mind are good.  However, the scam mails showing up in our mailbox are increasingly sophisticated, and she frequently falls for them.
Almost every day we receive one or more letters –in impressively designed envelopes-touting the imminent reduction in Medicare benefits, or Social Security benefits, or both, and the necessity of sending a contribution to some appropriately named organization such as the Center for Saving Medicare.  The letters are worded to convince the reader that Congress is on the verge of gutting (Medicare; Social Security; or some other program).  And that the reader must send money immediately, immediately- or their benefits will be stripped.

The various subscription services have polished their direct mail messages to a fine gloss.  She falls for these scams frequently.  With the Baby Boom swing into older ages fully underway, I’m sure these organizations are only going to get stronger and smarter.  Which means both those of us who are sixty or better, or those who help their parents, grandparents and so on, must be vigilant and prevent granddad from getting milked.

I’m sure my mother-in-law spends $3 or $4 per week on postage, as she’s become engaged in the publishers’ “sweepstakes”.  Just about every day she receives an envelope with quite amazing graphics and messaging, announcing that a winner has been certified, or there are now guaranteed winners, etc. and she dutifully fills out something and returns some direct response piece.  Fortunately she generally doesn’t buy or subscribe to whatever they are hawking. Occasionally, she receives a large package with bold print announcing that she’s a winner!  Cleverly done too: ELLEN: YOU ARE A WINNER!  OPEN IMMEDIATELY!  TIME SENSITIVE! And so on.  Inside are coupons entitling her to amazing discounts – e.g. buy a computer for only $400.  Examine the fine print, and with even a little knowledge, you’ll know that model is at least two years old.

Here’s the point: if you are helping out some older adults, you may have to become their advisor to prevent them from being ripped off.  Ellen isn’t being scammed out of thousands, but grifted out of $30 or $40 per month she could put to far better use.  I would say shame to these direct mailers, but they obviously don’t have a sense of shame.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: What Matters Now by Gary Hamel

Interview of Eric Schmidt by Gary Hamel at the MLab dinner tonight. Google's Marissa Mayer and Hal Varian also joined the open dialog about Google's culture and management style, from chaos to arrogance. The video just went up on YouTube. It's quite entertaining. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Cover of The Future of ManagementMy list of must-read business writers continues to expand.Gary Hamel, however, author of What Matters Now, with the very long subtitle of How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, has been on the list for quite some time.Continuing his thesis on the need for a new approach to management introduced in his prior book The Future of Management, Hamel calls for a complete rethinking of how enterprises are run.

Fundamental to his recommendation is that the practice of management is ossified in a command and control system that is now generations old and needs to be replaced with something that reflects an educat…

Book Review- Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

Have you ever watched, or been involved in, a business failure, where, despite the best efforts of hardworking people, the business doesn’t survive? Scott Sonenshein lived through it, as he describes in the Introduction to his engrossing book Stretch.  (In some books, the reader can skip the intro- not this one; the introduction is a must-read part of the book.) He was hired by start-up Vividence in Silicon Valley at the very apex of the tech boom.  Despite prestige VC backers, top-tier hires and $50 million, Vividence didn’t make it. As his career continued, that experience led to an interest in why some well-funded operations don’t succeed, while other, more resource constrained, do. Peter Senge wrote about reinforcing cycles as part of his book The Fifth Discipline, which I consider one of the finest business books ever penned. In it, Senge describes the downward cycle that some companies fall into, and why it is so difficult to reverse. Sonenshein explores those cycles from diffe…

Tax Inversions

A savvy businessman once told me “it’s important to know what problem you are trying to solve”.
Let’s ignore for the moment whether or not Treasury or the IRS had the power to change the rules on so-called tax inversions without Congressional action. (The power they said they didn’t have only a few months ago.)
Rather, let’s focus on what problem we are trying to solve. That is, why is the greatest country on earth chasing companies away? Shouldn’t the U.S. be the place that companies want to locate their headquarters?
Imagine this: the U.S. legal structure and tax regime was so attractive that Mercedes, Toyota, Astra Zeneca, Samsung, Total, Singapore Air, Banco Santander, Petrobras, Fujitsu, Nokia, SAP, Audi, Tata Group, Lenovo, Pirelli, Deutsche Bank, Honda, LG, Hyundai, Roche, Credit Suisse, Four Seasons, Siemens, Phillips, Bridgestone, Anglo-America, DeBeers, Volkswagen, Canon,  L’Oréal, Swatch, Armani, LVMH, Toshiba, H&M, Mahindra, Aldi, Kubota, Onex, Ducati, Pemex, Saudi-Ara…