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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

By Musetta Wollenweber

SUN Columnist

It’s been a crazy week for me, playing catch up after my “staycation” and a very needy week in our community. I’m thankful for the resources I have to allow me to assist my people.

There’s a lot to cover this week, so here we go:

Consumer fraud

Be wary of work-at-home opportunities.

Typical work-at-home scams utilize claims of large earning potential for little expenditure of time. Job opportunities may appear on Craigslist, on any number of online job sites, or through unsolicited e-mail messages. Examples of some common work-at-home scams include:

• Home assembly and crafting. Certainly, there are some legitimate opportunities to turn real craft skills into a home-based business, but be wary of any “opportunity” that promises what may seem to be unrealistic projected earnings and requires you to pay the promoter for all materials and kits to be assembled.

• Envelope stuffing. Another one of the classic ways people are promised a profitable way to earn money at home. After you purchase all of the supplies (envelopes, stamps or stamp meter, etc.) you may have to stuff thousands of envelopes just to break even.

• Mystery shopping. Workers are recruited to shop online or at local stores to prepare store reviews. Often the first thing they are asked is to “shop” Western Union or MoneyGram. You are sent a check that you deposit in your personal bank account and then wire-transfer most of that money before the check actually clears your bank (keeping a fee for yourself). Unfortunately, the check you received is bogus, causing the check to be returned “unpaid” and leaving you responsible to your bank for the bad check.

• Reshipping. So-called large multinational companies recruit people to reship products all over the world. You have to ask yourself: “Why would any legitimate company need to rely on individual shipping clerks working out of their homes?” The answer is simple —a legitimate company would never operate in this fashion. You are likely participating in an illegal theft or counterfeit enterprise, allowing the scammers to hide behind your address and identity, as you ship stolen or counterfeit goods around the globe for them.

• Payment processing. Similar to the reshipping scams, payment processing or payment transfer scams have multiple objectives; solicit you to participate in a theft/money laundering scheme or gain access to your personal and financial information to be used for identity theft.

There are many other dubious work-at-home offers out there. The best thing you can do is be highly skeptical of any offer which:

1. Is conducted entirely long distance via e-mail or by phone calls;

2. Asks you to use your personal bank account or home address for processing shipments or payments;

3. Promises large earnings with little up-front investment and minimal hours; or

4. Requires that you provide personal identifying or financial information.

With the information contained in this article, along with the numerous other resources available, we hope consumers continue taking the initiative to educate and protect themselves and their families against the unscrupulous behaviors of these fraudsters.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

AARP Driver Safety

Take the four-hour classroom refresher course especially designed for drivers age 50 and over. You may even be eligible for an auto insurance discount. Cost is: AARP members $12, non-members $14.

The next class in the area is Monday, Aug. 29, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in Durango at the fairgrounds in the Pine Room.

To register, call Bryce at 946-6037.

Pagosa Springs does not currently offer this course, however if you are interested in becoming an instructor, call me at The Den, 264-2167.

Medicare

Thinking about sharing a Medicare card or number?

Don’t.

• You could lose your benefits.

• Your personal medical records could be wrong.

• You may be limited to certain doctors, drug stores and hospitals.

• You may have to pay money back or be fined.

• You could be arrested.

Sharing a Medicare or Medicaid card or number is fraud.

Upcoming events

“The Founding of Australia,” a discourse with Eddie Bennett. Go Down Under on a historical, informative and entertaining antipodean journey. Friday, Aug. 19 at 12:45 p.m. at The Den.

Railroad buffs, enjoy a slideshow of old choo-choos on Tuesday, Aug. 23, with Boyd Reynolds at 12:30 p.m. in our dining room.

Our final Picnic in the Park of the summer is coming soon. This time we’ve added a pie eating contest (tart size). How fast can you gobble yours down? I’m known to have a big mouth, so can you beat me?

Jack Collinsworth will return to entertain us with more country western music so, ladies, fasten your seat belts! Reservations are required to attend; call Rob at 264-2167 and sign up for the contest, too. Friday, Aug. 25, at noon.

Art in the Den

We don’t have any!

Our dining room walls desperately need your help ... they’re naked! Do you have a display you could share with us for a month or so, or know someone who does? We’ve enjoyed quilts, photographs, art work from the schools. Please help us out; contact me at 264-2167.

Medicare open enrollment

The 2011 General Enrollment for Medicare Prescription Plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage Plans has changed to Oct. 15 -Dec. 7, 2011.

Transportation

Our door-to-door bus service is somewhat of a limousine service. Our courteous bus driver will arrive at your door and escort you to the bus, then take you to your destinations throughout the day to get your errands done. Perhaps you need to grocery shop, pay bills, get to the doctor’s office, stop at the pharmacy or, better yet, join our extended family for lunch at the senior center.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. we’re here to serve you. No need to rely on others!

The service is available for those 60 and older; suggested donation is $2 per day. Our service area is limited. Call 264-2167 for details.

Home delivery meals

We know you are out there, so give us a call, perhaps check us out for a week. Are you homebound or know someone who is? Let the Silver Foxes Den help you with your meals. We have expanded our service to the more rurally isolated areas of the county and would like to help you, help yourself.

These meals are the same meals prepared in our kitchen by the same cooks who prepare those scrumptious senior center meals. Our hot meal, home-delivery program remains available to those closer to town four days per week, with frozen meals on Thursdays and weekends. Meals are available to people age 60-plus for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give us a call at 264-2167 for further information.

Weekly activities

Friday, Aug. 19 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Founding of Australia 12:45 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 22 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 23 — Gym Walk 12:30 p.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 24 — No scheduled activities.

Thursday, Aug. 25 — Administrative day.

Friday, Aug. 26 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Stitchin’ in the Kitchen 10 a.m.; Book Club 10:30 a.m.; Picnic in the Park and pie eating contest, noon (reservations required for picnic and pie eating).

This week’s menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act via the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other donations and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal, which is approximately $11.51. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m., with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 19 — Fish Creole, cheesy potatoes, broccoli, tossed salad, sliced peaches, bran muffin.

Monday, Aug. 22 — Meatloaf with beef gravy, whipped potatoes, peas, pineapple, wheat bread.

Tuesday, Aug. 23 — Grilled corn beef with Swiss cheese on whole wheat bread, homemade chunky tomato soup, whole wheat crackers, carrot-raisin salad.

Wednesday, Aug. 24 — Spinach lasagna, Italian vegetables, tossed salad, Italian bread, strawberry fruit with whipped topping, banana slices.

Thursday, Aug. 25 — Closed.

Friday, Aug. 26 — Picnic in the Park. Barbecue beef brisket, ranch beans, coleslaw, fruit cobbler, reservation required.

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