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Senior Traps
Old 03-24-2019, 09:52 AM   #1
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Senior Traps

This may be personal, but I think the problem exists for old seniors like me, but also for almost everyone. Am asking for any situations you may have encountered that may have resulted in cost or inconvenience... that may have been caused by deceptive advertising or things that slip through the cracks through inefficiency.

So, here are just a few of the kinds of things that confused me lately.

1. My internet service provider sent me an Email telling me I could get free Streaming TV. I bit... Why not? Just a little suspicious, I decided to look to see if it was really "free"... All the results said "yes"... Okay .. why not sign up. Until there was a little note saying that signing up for Streaming TV, would enroll me in TV... A $69 charge in addition to my internet service.
Yeah... I know.... I should have known that there was a difference.


2. We always pay our credit card on-time and have never had an interest charge. We call in to the CC Company to authorize payment to the bank. Last month
DW called to pay the bill. Instead of paying off the bill as had always happened, the rep simply paid the minimum charge to the bank, resulting in a $35 interest charge on the balance. Found out on the next bill, and called to get it all corrected, which was OK... but...
I wonder what might have happened if we, or maybe an older relative of yours might not have picked this up.

On the internet, orTV, many, many online offers that are free or offered at a minimum price like $! a month... for three months.... and after that, in the tiny print... "After 3 months, you will be charged $19.95 a month".
Gotta remember to mark the calendar to cancel.

All legal... no complaint there...

Opening the door, to hear from anyone who might have gotten caught in this "caveat emptor" trap.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:07 AM   #2
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We are 20 years younger but I am always suspicious and usually just ignore that stuff. Sometimes it can be very difficult to get services to quit billing your card even after you cancel.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:07 AM   #3
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My lifelong approach has been to assume there are hidden fees or charges and just not respond to these offers. I'm hoping that as I become less discerning as I age, the response is so ingrained that it will continue.

I would never pay any bill over the phone. Not enough confirmation of the payment. I used to open bills when I got the mail and immediately pay them as they were opened. Now I go on-line and pay as they appear in Personal Capital. It's a game of whack-a-mole. Spend money, pay it off the minute it leaves pending status.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:12 AM   #4
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It's theoretically easy to take advantage of one of these come-on offers, and then cancel before the "gotcha" subscription payment begins. For me, it's just not worth the hassle, even if I can cancel after the trial period has ended. So, I never take advantage of these teaser offers, and by now rarely even read the details of such offers.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:15 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
....

2. We always pay our credit card on-time and have never had an interest charge. We call in to the CC Company to authorize payment to the bank. ...
.....
Why not use the bank online website to pay your CC bill, that way you can pay it and all the other bills at one place.
easy peasy and free.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:17 AM   #6
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One defense I use is the ShopSafe or similar CC numbers. You Instantiate a new number off of your "real" credit card and put a limit of the price they are offering. That way, if they attempt to charge more, or sign you up for a monthly thing hidden in the fine print, the extra charge won't go through. Not a solution for all the OP problems, but a handy tool. Getting off those monthly billing things is made next to impossible! They rarely let yo do it online, Instead, make you call and wait and oops you need this or that order number in order to cancel, etc. With ShopSafe, they contact YOU asking for a new CC and you say "nope",, Done!
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:39 AM   #7
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I think this is very hard to answer because there are so many legitimate offers that look/smell just like the scams. I helped out my Dad the last couple years of his life and the sheer number of offers he got made my head spin.

One of the WORST offenders was Publisher's Clearing House. He enjoyed playing "games" on the computer for "free entries" into various contests. No harm, no foul, right? Well, eventually he started buying all sorts of crap from them. When I asked him about it, he was 100% convinced that buying stuff would increase his chances of winning. To this day, I am keeping his estate bank account open just WAITING for his winning day to come. It's bad enough that his best friend (who passed a few years ago) played too and when I mentioned it to his daughter (who is a elder law attorney) said, "Ah, it's no big deal...he likes playing." AHHH!!! WHAT?!?

Point being, these offers...hell, ALL OFFERS are nothing more than an organization who is trying to separate you from YOUR money. There are no exceptions, there are no free lunches. So, I think if you can remember this and approach EVERY SINGLE OFFER with serious doubt, it will help keep you a little more safe.

Also, for the OP...I think you have mentioned that your kid(s) are somewhat involved in your finances. I would encourage their involvement in helping you steer clear of some of these issues. Of course, this is only relevant advice if you can *really* trust that person.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
Why not use the bank online website to pay your CC bill, that way you can pay it and all the other bills at one place.
easy peasy and free.
+1
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:52 AM   #9
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I recall seeing some of those free trial promotions years ago where you get a free thingamajig and can cancel within X days to avoid enrolling in the pay plan. They put in some clever obstacles to trying to cancel, I found. For example, the cover letter tells you about the service you can get, and can sign up for free. But the coupon you mail back (pre-internet days) to enroll and get the gift is the only thing which contains the instructions to actually cancel before being charged. So, if you enroll but wish to cancel before getting charged, you have to write down the cancel-offer info from the coupon before you mail it in (I used the cover letter), and keep it around where you can find later.
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Old 03-24-2019, 11:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
One defense I use is the ShopSafe or similar CC numbers. You Instantiate a new number off of your "real" credit card and put a limit of the price they are offering. That way, if they attempt to charge more, or sign you up for a monthly thing hidden in the fine print, the extra charge won't go through. Not a solution for all the OP problems, but a handy tool. Getting off those monthly billing things is made next to impossible! They rarely let yo do it online, Instead, make you call and wait and oops you need this or that order number in order to cancel, etc. With ShopSafe, they contact YOU asking for a new CC and you say "nope",, Done!
Bank of America is not my favorite bank but ShopSafe is a good program. As far as I know, no other bank offers the same program.
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Old 03-24-2019, 11:12 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=imoldernu;2211230]
Quote:
1. My internet service provider sent me an Email telling me I could get free Streaming TV. I bit... Why not? Just a little suspicious, I decided to look to see if it was really "free"... All the results said "yes"... Okay .. why not sign up. Until there was a little note saying that signing up for Streaming TV, would enroll me in TV... A $69 charge in addition to my internet service.
Yeah... I know.... I should have known that there was a difference.
Nothing to do with "Senior". A good reminder to read all the "little notes".

Quote:
2. We always pay our credit card on-time and have never had an interest charge. We call in to the CC Company to authorize payment to the bank. Last month
DW called to pay the bill. Instead of paying off the bill as had always happened, the rep simply paid the minimum charge to the bank, resulting in a $35 interest charge on the balance. Found out on the next bill, and called to get it all corrected, which was OK... but...
I wonder what might have happened if we, or maybe an older relative of yours might not have picked this up.
Again, nothing to do with "Senior". It's important to read and understand all bills and statements carefully.

I pay all my bills electronically using my bank's website. I've never heard of calling a credit card company to pay bills.

Quote:
On the internet, orTV, many, many online offers that are free or offered at a minimum price like $! a month... for three months.... and after that, in the tiny print... "After 3 months, you will be charged $19.95 a month".
Gotta remember to mark the calendar to cancel.
Yup. Once again nothing here regarding "Senior".

Quote:
Opening the door, to hear from anyone who might have gotten caught in this "caveat emptor" trap.
There's no "trap" here. There is always caveat emptor.
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Old 03-24-2019, 11:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by joeea View Post
Nothing to do with "Senior". A good reminder to read all the "little notes".

Again, nothing to do with "Senior". It's important to read and understand all bills and statements carefully.

I pay all my bills electronically using my bank's website. I've never heard of calling a credit card company to pay bills.

Yup. Once again nothing here regarding "Senior".

There's no "trap" here. There is always caveat emptor.
+1000

This morning I checked the mail, and in it was a giant postcard that said in inch high letters, "100% free dinner!".

I threw it away and went on with my day, without even bothering to get my readers so that I could read the rest of it. I am 100% confident that the sender expected to make money off me somehow or other or he/she wouldn't have sent me the card, and consequently, I would not enjoy the "100% free dinner" at all.

It helps to approach these things with a skeptical attitude, no matter what your age. This has nothing to do with age.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:06 PM   #13
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I agree that all the marketing people are trying to separate all of us from our money and they don't care what our age is.

But I will say that my almost-83-year-old father, who is very smart and well-educated, is beginning to lose mental acuity. He acknowledges it. As a result of this decline in his abilities, he is beginning to fall for things.

He bought a time share in Las Vegas based on the salesperson's representations, which were, um, inaccurate. Paid $16K for it, never used it, sold it back to the company for $50.

He "hired" a company for $300 to "clean up" his computer because they noticed it was running slow.

He continually signs up for Amazon Prime. I finally gave up on trying to cancel it, so he just brags about how great Amazon's two day service is.

He somehow signed up for Amazon music service. Canceled that.

He made a six-figure trade in one of his retirement accounts and didn't remember it a few months later.

I guess my hope is that people would look out for signs like this in our older or more vulnerable family and friends and then lovingly intervene to help take care of them and their finances. With my Dad it has been an effort that I coordinate with him and get his agreement on things, but as time passes we both see that I have to take a more active role.

Automating his finances as much as possible is helpful to prevent unpaid bills and untaken RMDs and the like. But if everything is automated and he seems to be doing well, it can take some time to notice something that is off. The other thing we do is we have a basket that he puts all important financial stuff into. When I visit, I then review the stuff in the basket to make sure all is kosher. Or if it isn't, then I start the process of fixing whatever it is.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:15 PM   #14
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There is always something new to look out for. Elderly past 80 married couple shirttail relative. Pay the bill for winter propane and transpose a couple numbers so they have a small credit. Next month they get what they think is a bill so sent a check. The next month they get a bigger bill, pay that and the next month the bill is even bigger. Finally they show it to their daughter who explains it was a credit left over statement and not a bill.

Small family owned fuel company but it doesn't really excuse the fact they let the situation continue for well over 6 months and the daughter had to call to get her parents money back.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:17 PM   #15
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[QUOTE=joeea;2211280]
Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Nothing to do with "Senior". A good reminder to read all the "little notes".


Again, nothing to do with "Senior". It's important to read and understand all bills and statements carefully.

I pay all my bills electronically using my bank's website. I've never heard of calling a credit card company to pay bills.


Yup. Once again nothing here regarding "Senior".


There's no "trap" here. There is always caveat emptor.
+1
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:29 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=joeea;2211280]
Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Nothing to do with "Senior". A good reminder to read all the "little notes".


Again, nothing to do with "Senior". It's important to read and understand all bills and statements carefully.

I pay all my bills electronically using my bank's website. I've never heard of calling a credit card company to pay bills.


Yup. Once again nothing here regarding "Senior".


There's no "trap" here. There is always caveat emptor.
Yeah... my post didn't belong here on ER... Hard to argue with cash management perfection.
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Old 03-24-2019, 12:48 PM   #17
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I definitely think the older we get the easier it can be to fall for scams. Luckily my mom never lost any brain power and didn’t fall for anything but I think that’s more unusual at 89.
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Old 03-24-2019, 01:12 PM   #18
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Bank of America is not my favorite bank but ShopSafe is a good program. As far as I know, no other bank offers the same program.
Yes, I will Google that for the team...no prob.


https://www.creditcardinsider.com/bl...-credit-cards/


BofA ShopSafe, Capital One Eno, Citi Virtual Card.
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Old 03-24-2019, 01:33 PM   #19
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2. We always pay our credit card on-time and have never had an interest charge. We call in to the CC Company to authorize payment to the bank. Last month
DW called to pay the bill. Instead of paying off the bill as had always happened, the rep simply paid the minimum charge to the bank, resulting in a $35 interest charge on the balance. Found out on the next bill, and called to get it all corrected, which was OK... but...
I wonder what might have happened if we, or maybe an older relative of yours might not have picked this up.
Consider one of these to eliminate the hassle of dealing with a rep, who might make a mistake.

1. Use the credit card's website to set up autopay to pay the full amount of your monthly bill, or some preset amount.

2. If you prefer not to use the credit card's website, you can still call in, but don't choose to speak to a rep, there should be something in the phone menu to pay your bill using the touch tones to provide your checking account info.

These days, I don't speak with any rep unless it's absolutely necessary. Why create the potential for a mistake, when you can totally avoid it?
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Old 03-24-2019, 02:06 PM   #20
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Well, I could start with casinos. I attend monthly meetings to a charitable organization that funds scholarships for mining, electrical and mechanical engineering students at the local casino. Literally, hundreds of seniors walking around like zombies, some on portable oxygen, feeding the one armed bandits. I know we all deserve some recreation now and then, but to me it almost looks criminal.
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