One of the best things about my job is getting to meet nice folks from all over the state, including the one who just sent me some photos of the elk visible from the back porch in Pendleton.
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I really, really hate fast operators who prey on the elderly. I have a close friend, an elderly woman, who shares all the scam mail she gets with me, so I have a window into a world that most working-age folks are totally unaware of.
Below is an example of a really nasty bit of business, an offer pitching what is supposedly a way to buy an extended warranty on your old car (it's not really a warranty but a service contract, but most people call it a warranty or extended warranty).
What it really is instead is a way for them to hook a suction line up to your bank account and drain it.
I know this for several reasons.
One is that my friend's car is a mid-1990s sedan. There is no way in hell that anyone honest will sell her a service contract to fix problems with a car of that age. It would never pencil out.
Two is that, while I was born at night, it wasn't last night. I have had countless elders come to me to complain about "warranties" that refused to pay when the coverage the elder thought they had purchased was invoked.
This whole offer, and especially the table on the back, is the work of sophisticated con artists who know that if they can get elders on the phone, the elders are often vulnerable to sales pitches that play on the fixed-income elder's fear of unexpected/unplanned expenses. The people who staff the phones for these come-ons are really, really good at being convincing and sounding utterly sincere and honest. They will talk your ear off about the high cost of auto repairs, and how their "product" would give the caller "peace of mind."
That's what this scam is about -- playing on the fear that folks on fixed incomes have of repair bills, just like the horrible "water supply line" warranties that were being sold around here a few years ago.
Believe me, that supposed "example" on the second page of the piece is PURE FICTION and is intended to give the reader the FALSE impression that they are selling something that would PAY for those repairs. (It is a lie, in in other words.)
If you EVER get an offer like this that tempts you to respond, DON'T DO IT.
Send it to me instead -- I'll gladly review it and discuss it with you at no charge if you let me use it as a consumer education example to help others.
And if you can ever show me a mass-mailing come-on that targets the elderly that actually proves to be actually be a good deal after I look into it, I'll not only tell you it seems legit, but I'll give that company a public pat on the back for offering elders a fair deal that benefits them, and not just the company trying to take their money.
John Gear is a Salem attorney.
LAWYERLY FINE PRINT:
John Gear Law Office LLC and Salem Consumer Law. John Gear Law Office is in Suite 208B of the Security Building in downtown Salem at 161 High St. SE, across from the Elsinore Theater, a half-block south of Marion County Courthouse, just south of State Street. There is abundant, free 3-hour on-street parking throughout downtown Salem, and three multi-story parking ramps that offer free customer parking in downtown Salem too.
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