NIAGARA, Wis. ‚ÄĒ I have discovered that the entrance into the ranks of ‚Äúsenior citizenship‚ÄĚ also makes one a target for scams.
Apparently, scammers do not agree with the phrase ‚Äúwith age comes wisdom.‚ÄĚ They count on us being too polite to hang up on them or too easily confused to see through their schemes. They also believe we are most likely to have a ‚Äúnest egg‚ÄĚ ripe for their picking. Of course, not all offers turn out to be scams; here are a few examples of each from my own experience.
Shortly after I retired, my husband and I received an invitation in the mail. We were invited to Pine Grove Country Club for dinner and a ‚Äúpresentation‚ÄĚ for home owners. We were curious to see what the presentation entailed, and what‚Äôs not to like about a free meal at a place as lovely as Pine Grove? We attended. As I looked around the room, I noticed that everyone there was about our age, which made me a little suspicious. The sales representative was very pleasant and very knowledgeable. He was pitching various insulation applications for your attic and answered everyone‚Äôs questions very completely ‚ÄĒ except mine. I asked him how he got the contact names for the invitations. He smiled and said his company ‚Äúhad a good marketing person‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ end of answer. H-m-m-m.
My husband has a background in sales and, consequently, has a soft spot in his heart for other sales representatives; he knows the meaning of ‚Äústraight commission.‚ÄĚ After the presentation, we made an appointment to see what else this gentleman had to say. I did call the Chamber of Commerce to see if the company had received permission or any kind of clearance to sell within the Iron Mountain area. The Chamber had not heard of the company, and no one had called.
Now I was more than a bit nervous, but so far no agreement had been made, nothing had been signed and no money had been required. It was just information.
At this point in my story, it is important to understand we have an older home in what I like to call the ‚Äúhistoric district‚ÄĚ of Niagara. We bought it 40 years ago. It had one of those old wooden front doors with stick-on house numbers; it was, indeed, going to be a project, but we were young and it was our first home. We were excited to fix it up. At that time our oldest son was 6 and starting first grade. On his first day of school, he was asked his address. His answer made a lot of sense in his 6-year-old mind. ‚ÄúWell, there is a 1 and an 0 and a 4 and an 0, but the 1 fell off and the 4 fell off so I guess I live at 0.‚ÄĚ Classic!
The house is now 90 years old and has had its fair share of issues. We are both big believers in sound infrastructure and preventive maintenance so over the years have fixed many things that cannot even be seen ‚ÄĒ from the furnace to the electrical to the plumbing. In fact, whenever we are asked if we still live in the same house, my husband says, ‚Äúthe only thing that is the same is the address.‚ÄĚ
So ‚Ä¶ the rep came to our home as scheduled to discuss the opportunity further and to see our home. One lingering issue was an upstairs that was very hot in the summer and cold in the winter despite the insulation we had blown into an empty attic years ago and the new windows, insulation in the walls, and new siding we had added 15 years ago. The salesman‚Äôs company had a solution for our problem, and we signed on the dotted line.
A week later, a technician came and installed an insulated blanket over the old insulation and a gable fan powered by a small solar panel on the roof. I am happy, and relieved, to say that it worked like a charm. We now have a very comfortable upstairs in all seasons, and the cost was a lot less than many of the home improvements we had made over the years. We even qualified for a home energy savings tax credit.
So, this story had a happy ending. We were given lots of information, had met the representative in person, the work had been completed as promised, and no money had been required until the work was finished. It was a legitimate company offering a real solution to a common problem with older homes. We received what we had paid for; it was not a scam.
But that is not always the case. I began getting monthly calls to give my opinion to a group called ‚ÄúInformed Electorate.‚ÄĚ Initially, I agreed to answer the questions. When I tried to make additional conversation, he talked right through my comments. ‚ÄúHe‚ÄĚ was a recorded voice. Then in the coming months, that recorded voice began asking for money to support their cause ‚ÄĒ I promptly hung up. After I did that a few times, the calls stopped. Shortly thereafter, I got other calls asking for donations to other causes ‚ÄĒ in the same voice. I hung up. I also began getting calls asking me if I had arthritis in my knees or my back. I naively answered that I did have arthritis in my back. Then the caller offered to give me a ‚Äúfree‚ÄĚ back brace that Medicare would pay for ‚ÄĒ no charge to me at all. I told him that if my doctor wanted me to have a back brace, she would prescribe one. This time, he hung up.
My point in sharing all of this is that when we ‚Äúattain a certain age,‚ÄĚ we become targets. There are a lot of people out there ‚ÄĒ very convincing people ‚ÄĒ who are more than happy to separate us from our money. I looked up ‚Äúsenior scams‚ÄĚ on the internet, and here is a sampling of what I found ‚ÄĒ
‚ÄĒ The Grandparents Scam: Seniors receive phone calls from con artists who claim to be their grandchildren in trouble and in need of help. The help is always cash and must be wired because no ID is required to claim the cash. Of course, the ‚Äúgrandchildren‚ÄĚ always say not to tell mom or dad because they would be so angry and disappointed.
‚ÄĒ Funeral Scams: Hard to believe, but true, that con artists will actually contact grieving relatives to extort money to settle a debt owed to them by the deceased. Of course, there is no debt but all too often to save face, grieving relatives pay the fake debt.
‚ÄĒ Health Insurance Scams: U.S. citizens over the age of 65 qualify for Medicare, so scam artists don‚Äôt have to know what health insurance company seniors are using. You may get calls from people posing as Medicare representatives asking for personal information to update your records so they are sure to process claims correctly. Once you supply your information, it will be used to send false claims to Medicare, and the con artist pockets the money.
‚ÄĒ IRS Scams: Perpetrators of this scam call elderly taxpayers saying they owe money and they demand it immediately. They threaten them with arrest, deportation, or losing their driver‚Äôs license. Caller ID may even show it to be the IRS. Know, and remember, the IRS NEVER makes phone calls. The real IRS will always send letters through the mail.
‚ÄĒ Telemarketing and Phone Scams: This is a popular scheme. Elderly people make twice as many purchases over the phone than the rest of the population, making them great prey for fake calls. Seniors are commonly more comfortable with shopping over the phone than they are with shopping online. There is no paper trail and no in-person interaction making these scams nearly impossible to trace. Also, if you fall for it once and make the purchase being offered, the con artist sells your name to other scammers, and you continue getting calls.
‚ÄĒ Email and Phishing Scams: These are common scams for anyone, but seniors are more likely to be victims due to their unfamiliarity with the internet and its features. Emails are sent to the elderly asking them to ‚Äúupdate their profile information‚ÄĚ for online accounts. This includes bank profiles, online shopping accounts, social media accounts and more. They capture your information, and then do whatever they want with it.
To avoid becoming a victim of scams, follow this advice ‚ÄĒ
‚ÄĒ Always check with your children to verify your grandchildren are all doing fine.
‚ÄĒ Resist the urgency of any phone request and never act quickly.
‚ÄĒ Never wire money based on telephone or email contacts.
‚ÄĒ Never sign blank insurance forms, and never give blanket authorization to health care providers to bill for services provided.
‚ÄĒ Know your insurance benefits and know the medical services you have received.
‚ÄĒ Remember the IRS never calls, emails, texts, or contacts people through social media. The IRS will not call about taxes and will not require payment for your taxes a certain way.
‚ÄĒ Select the charities you want to support and make donations directly to them on your own timeline. Never make donations over the phone or by answering email solicitations.
‚ÄĒ Do not pay for any services ahead of time ‚ÄĒ pay only after services have been provided and the work has been completed to your satisfaction.
‚ÄĒ When using your computer, do not download files, click on links or open attachments in emails from unfamiliar senders.
‚ÄĒ Never email personal or financial information.
‚ÄĒ Do not click on pop-ups no matter how interesting or helpful they appear.
‚ÄĒ Check your on-line accounts regularly for any unfamiliar activity.
And, last but not least, if you become confused or feel threatened, just hang up the phone. You will not hurt anyone‚Äôs feelings or ruin anyone‚Äôs day. You will be protecting yourself. You have worked hard to save for your retirement, and you deserve to enjoy your nest egg. Don‚Äôt let some crook take away what you have worked your whole life to save.
Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m Sunday through Saturday.
Sunday: Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.
Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.
Tuesday: Crochet, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.;
Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; bingo with Carol, 2 p.m.; laundry day, 4 p.m.; dinner theater, 5 p.m.
Friday: What‚Äôs cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 a.m.; jigsaw brain tease, 2:00 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.
Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 pm; bingo, 2 p.m.
Room visits: 9 to 11 a.m. Sundays and 1 p.m., Monday and Friday.
Exercise: 11 a.m., Monday and Friday.
Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; story-telling, 10 a.m.; bingo-rama, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.
Monday: Memory books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; Sagola Senior Center, 10:30 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.
Wednesday: Coffee social/name that word, 10 a.m.; Apostolic Lutheran, 1:15; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men‚Äôs club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.
Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; United Lutheran, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.
Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; wii fun, 2 p.m.; web browsing, 2:30 p.m.; comedy movie, 6 p.m.
Saturday: ICMCF word search/you be the judge, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.
Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.
Exercise, 10 a.m. daily.
Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday.
Popcorn Day, every Friday
Sunday: St. Patrick‚Äôs Facts, 10:15 a.m.; magic moments music, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.
Monday: Who, what, when 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan entertains, 3 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; residents‚Äô council/food committee, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday: Sharpen your senses, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party/Jim, Edberg entertains 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.
Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; Deal or No Deal, 2 p.m.; magic moments music, 5:45 p.m.
Friday: Manor Care monthly, 10:15 a.m.; lucky 13 game, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.
Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.
Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Family Feud, 10:15 a.m.; St. Pat‚Äôs bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.
Monday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; travel club, New Orleans, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.
Tuesday: Men‚Äôs breakfast, 7 a.m.; current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Deal Or No Deal, 6:15 p.m.
Wednesday: Jokereno,10:15 a.m.; birthday party with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.; chaplet of divine mercy, 3 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.
Thursday: Catholic Mass/Stations of the Cross, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; prayer shawl, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.
Friday: Ball toss, 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Jim D., 2 p.m.
Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie ‚ÄúSmokey and the Bandit‚ÄĚ and popcorn, 5:45 p.m.
Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.
Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.
Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.
Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.
Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.
Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.¬†
Thursday: Trivia, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.
Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.
Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.
Florence Health Services
Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.
Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.
Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.
Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; ring toss, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.
Tuesday: Dyna stretch, 10 a.m.; tea for two tea party, 2 p.m.
Wednesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; cooking class, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Larry J., 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.
Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; monthly birthday party, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.
Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; uno, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.
Busy Bee, 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; uno, 10:30 a.m.; pictionary 2 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.
Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; beauty shop, 10:30 a.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.; mind joggers, 6 p.m.
Tuesday: Bunco, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; social circle, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.
Wednesday: Social circle, 10:30 a.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; family feud, 3:30 p.m.; rummy, 6 p.m.
Thursday: Gather at the gallery, 10 a.m.; exercise, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.
Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; bunco, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.
Saturday: Hand massage, 10:15 a.m.; life stories, 10:30; manicures, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.
Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the Center.
Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Lunch at noon.
Bingo on Tuesdays.
Free meal drawing on Thursdays.
Meals Monday through Friday.
Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month, except on holidays.¬† ¬†
Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.¬†
Hostess on duty Monday through Friday. ¬† ¬†
Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.
Birthdays acknowledged every day.
Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.
Crystal Falls Center
Head cook: Lucy Korhonen
Monday: Soup, salad, boiled dinner corned beef and cabbage, and homemade dessert
Tuesday: Soup, salad, barbecue chicken, rice, veggie, and homemade dessert.
Wednesday: Soup, salad, hamburgers on the grill, calico beans, chips, and homemade dessert.
Crystal Lake Center
The center is closed on weekends.
Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.
Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.
Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.
Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.¬†
The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. ¬†
The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin‚Äô Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60.¬†
Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.¬†
Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.
Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.
A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.
Aging and Disability Resource Center
Florence County, Wis.
Director: Tiffany White
Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.
The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.¬† ¬†
Fence Center/Town Hall
Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.
Florence Community Center/Town Hall
Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only.¬†
The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage.¬†
Tipler Town Hall
Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.
Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora
Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.
Coordinator: Pam Haluska
Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.
Fifteen games of ‚Äúfun bingo‚ÄĚ are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.
Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.
Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.
Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.
Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.
Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.
Iron River Center
Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available ‚ÄĒ call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230.
Menu for the week of March 18 follows:
Monday: Smoked sausage, sauerkraut, macaroni and cheese, fruit and milk.
Tuesday: Stuffed shells/marinara, Italian vegetables, fruit and milk.
Wednesday: Turkey wrap, cottage cheese, chips, fruit and milk.
Thursday: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans, dessert and milk.
Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center
Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603
Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154
Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place ‚ÄĒ join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play.¬†
Other activities are in the works ‚ÄĒ suggestions are always welcome.¬†
Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven‚Äôt been here in a while are encouraged to come back.
Director: Susie Slining
Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.
Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.
Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.
Menu for the week:
Monday: Chicken pot pie casserole, green beans, mixed vegetables, salad ba