Annie Lane: Exploiting the elderly

Published 5:53 pm Friday, July 15, 2022

Dear Annie: I’ve been engaged for eight months. I’m so happy about the fact that I’ve finally found someone to share the rest of my life with. We are very happy together, and the fact that she has two daughters from a previous marriage makes it feel like I am part of a family again. I am a widower and was alone for six years.

I don’t know why, but when I mention that I’m getting married again, I get rude comments like, “What are you, nuts?” or just the simple “Why?” I feel so down and hurt by this. I don’t want to be rude to others, but please tell me how I can handle this in a mature manner.

— Wearied Widower

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Dear Wearied: Congratulations! Your excitement about your second marriage was beautiful and heartwarming to read about, and you’re right that it’s rude and highly inappropriate for anyone to question it. The next time someone does, let your pride speak for itself. A simple, “Nuts? No. I’m so lucky!” or “Because I found someone I don’t want to live a day without,” should clear things up. As upsetting as those responses are, don’t let them chip away at the love and luster you and your fiance feel for each other.

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Dear Annie: I know this has come up before, but I want to put out another warning to people. I recently worked with a client who had been scammed out of more than $16,000. She had to take a home loan out on her house to pay for this.

What was the scam? Someone called and said they were from the IRS and that she owed back taxes. She is a widow whose husband died about three years previously, and she said he always handled the taxes.

They scared her and told her she had to go to a store, get a prepaid Visa card and call them with all the card information, which she did. I don’t know the exact amount they told her to send, but they called back and said she owed more and had to reload the card. She did this at least three times. Finally, a clerk at the grocery store she went to realized something wasn’t right and stopped her from sending more money, but the damage was done. The money was gone. She’s on a limited income and now has the added expense of the home loan. It broke my heart.

She has a son who lives out of town but said she didn’t want to “bother” him about this, and she was embarrassed to tell her friends as she felt a little like a criminal for not paying proper taxes. If only she would have spoken to someone — anyone — they would have let her know from the get-go that this was a scam.

What I want to really emphasize again to people is that the IRS WILL NOT CALL and threaten you for payment on the phone. They’ll send a letter. Also, for those who are in a relationship and share expenses, please do things together so both people are informed. Often, one person will pay all the bills, and the other person has no clue about what’s happening. Don’t do this. One person can do the physical action of paying the bill, but both people should be in on it so they know the situation. This lady told me that if her husband had been alive, this probably wouldn’t have happened. If this sweet lady would’ve known what her husband did or didn’t do, she would’ve had a better chance of knowing that the taxes were all paid.

So, please, everyone, if you get any sort of threatening call demanding payment for anything, talk to someone — a relative, friend, neighbor — anyone. Don’t let yourself be scammed!

— A Word of Caution

Dear Word of Caution: What a sad story — and all too common these days. Thank you for your wise advice to our readers. It’s so important to spread the word and protect our elderly from abuse and manipulation. Your local Area Agency on Aging and the AARP Fraud Watch Network are also excellent resources to consult with if you think you, or a loved one, might be the target of a scam.

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