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Week of September 10, 2001:
Telemarketing Fraud, Terrorism, & Polite Present

Telemarketing Fraud

The Northwest Valley Community Council sponsored a meeting last week that featured Ralph Magrish, Area Agency on Aging (Region One). His handouts included brochures and flyers that cover many areas of identity theft.

The overall agenda was identity theft, and we spent a good deal of time on telemarketing fraud. Telemarketing is defined as a means for companies to sell goods and services. It's used by legitimate and dishonest companies. There's no way to know whether or not a business calling you is reputable.

Magrish gave some great tips, including:

  • Forty billion dollars are lost each year to criminal telemarketers. One of the biggest areas include phone calls from people soliciting charity donations, offering fantastic prizes, and no-risk investments, all with a fee that must be paid immediately. Then there are people who promise wonderful vacations and certain investments, and you only have to pay tax, bond fees, or delivery charges.
  • Never pay for a "free" prize, and remember foreign lotteries are illegal.
  • NEVER send money or give out credit card, social security, or bank account information to anyone calling, unless you know them. Ask any telemarketer to send you written material to study before making a purchase.
  • If you're willing to listen, ask the telemarketer for the company's name and address.
  • If a product is interesting, ask about the company's refund policy.
  • Be willing to follow up with a call to the state Attorney General's office or the local consumer protection service in your area to learn if any complaints have been made against the company.
  • NEVER let someone come to your home to pick up money from you.
  • Tell the caller you want your phone number removed from their telemarketing list. It is illegal for them to call once you've made this request.
  • Report suspicious telemarketing calls to the National Association of Attorneys General or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

People should never feel obligated to believe a telemarketer. They must prove they are who they are. It's for this reason that I don't give out information over the phone, and always ask them to put me on their "do not call" list. If they want to solicit funds or take a poll, they must be prepared to mail it to me or give me a URL. The people being called have all the power. It's up to them to use it, not give it away. And here are two good site for information on telemarketing fraud: AARP, and U.S. Department of Justice.

Here are a few more hotline numbers and Web sites, as of 02/17/02:

Terrorism

My early childhood memories revolve around war efforts: things my family did to help with the World War II war effort. Dad taught, but also worked building some kind of ship vital to the war effort. We raised a calf in the back yard, and called him Red Point, because meat ration stamps were red and each had so many points. We mixed yellow dye in with white stuff to use instead of butter. We had a Victory Garden, and my sister, Carolyn, did most of the weeding. We bought War Bonds. How we rejoiced when the war ended.

Since that time, our nation has been involved in many terrible events, but nothing to compare with the attack on its freedom that occurred September 11, 2001. Terrorists viciously targeted the heart of the country's economy and government. While thousands died, thousands rushed to help in rescue and recovery. Our country came alive in a ways it hadn't for years. It came together.

Americans place great value on freedom and liberty. We can worship as we please. Offer opinions that vary greatly, on many subjects, and not feel threatened. Many have died to keep the light of freedom burning brightly. Perhaps many more will die to ensure that we have this precious commodity.

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Polite Present: Manual of Good Manners, 1831

Excerpts from a charming, serious 2 1/2" x 4" book published in 1831 by Munroe & Francis.

AT TABLE:

Never pick your teeth at table; neither pick your nose, nor scratch your head.

Never drink till you hav equite emptied your mouth, and do not drink often.

Frown not nor murmur, if there be any thing at table which your parents or strangers with them eat, whilst none is given to you.

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