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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 21, 2007

they’re enabling elder abuse for a profit

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 12:17 pm

 phoneRingingS  In yesterday’s New York Times article “Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist” (May 20, 2007), Charles Duhigg tells the shameful tale of how “Large companies are selling vast databases of personal information to thieves, despite evidence their services are used for fraud.”  More often than not, the fraud is aimed at the elderly, who tend to be easy to find (at home), too-trusting, lonely enough to actuall enjoy chatting with telemarketers, and a little bit too desirous of striking it rich.   The NYT article deserves a full perusal.  You’ll learn how information brokers like infoUSA make millions of dollars selling information about people like you and me to shady characters seeking lists of victims.  Indeed:

“Telemarketing fraud, once limited to small-time thieves, has become a global criminal enterprise preying upon millions of elderly and other Americans every year, authorities say. Vast databases of names and personal information, sold to thieves by large publicly traded companies, have put almost anyone within reach of fraudulent telemarketers. And major banks have made it possible for criminals to dip into victims’ accounts without their authorization, according to court records.”

In case you think the information-sellers don’t know how the information is being used, consider this paragraph from the article:

phoneOldS InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

You can get helpful information for yourself or your beloved elders about telemarketing fraud and scams and what to do about it at the Federal Trade Commission website and the Federal Consumer Information Center’s Consumer Action Website. (The FTC seems to lump anyone over 55 into the “older American” category that is particularly vulnerable to telemarketing fraud!) Here are a couple of places to look:

  1. FTC brochures on Telemarketing and Telephone Sales phoneRingingS
  2. Consumer Action’s General Tips, discussion of existing federal Rules, and info on Vishing — using fraudulent phone calls to coax information that can be used to access your banking accounts and steal your identity.
  3. Putting Telephone Scams — On Hold, from the FTC tells you what to look for, how the elderly are victimized, how they hook you (travel prizes, lotteries, charities, fund transfer, and more), what to do about it and more.


park bench   
an old man slips deeper
into his dream


morning mist
a bent back sweeps
yesterday’s blossoms


picking strawberries
grandma’s rolled up sleeves reveal
pale tattooed numbers

phoneOldSN …………………………………… by Roberta Beary 
“park bench” – Hermitage 2006
“morning mist” Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2006
“picking strawberries” – Commended, Basho 300th Anniv. Intern’l Haiku Contest (1994); HIA (1996)


old passport
the tug
of my father’s smile


early bird special
rubbing elbows
with a stranger


around and around
learning the names
of one way streets

………………………………….. by Yu Chang  phoneRingingSN
“old passport” – Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II); The Loose Thread: RMA 2001
“early bird special” – Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)
“around and around”  Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II)

early Alzheimer’s
she says she’ll have . . .
the usual

….  by John Stevenson – Quiet Enough (2004)

    p.s. I like the quote from Sgt. Yves Leblanc of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: “Only one kind of customer wants to buy lists of seniors interested in lotteries and sweepstakes: criminals.”   Sgt. Leblanc reminds me to wish a Happy Victoria Day to all my good haijin friends in Canada.  If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d find a few fireworks haiku to help you celebrate (click here for a few).  Here’s one from Torontonian George Swede:

long after
the fireworks
        a shooting star

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