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Mary E.
I just wanted everyone to be aware of this -

I pay all of my mother's bills now, so I tell her to not even take the mail out of the basket until I sort it.  Previously, things would get lost when she'd take bills out and put them "safely" behind sofa cushions or in other strange places.  So, I was the first one to see what came in the mail from her reputable bank yesterday.  Perhaps you've all seen these particular "enticements" to open a loan account -

I should first mention that my mother HAS been receiving those pages of checks - maybe six checks on a page with a large 0% interest up in the corner for a few years.  A couple of years ago, she began hinting to me that she was wanting to use a check to get a loan - "after all the bank WANTS me to - otherwise why would they keep sending these checks?"  I told her that it was a gimmick for the bank to make money and that they were making it look very easy by offering checks to write out at the drop of a hat - and that the interest they were promoting would increase in a few months.  I THOUGHT she understood.

Well, she was too tempted, and I found out after she'd done it that she wrote out three seperate checks - for a total of $10,000 loans - so that she could give money to three people on different sides of the family (not mine).  I was beside myself, but it was too late - I wrote about it here. 

When she began to receive the monthly bill for about $200 she was shocked and said she couldn't afford it!!  (She wasn't even buying Ensure at this time, saying it was too expensive - and this was BEFORE she took out this loan.)  Then she lost a bill one month and the interest went up to about 27%.  I refused to help her with this at first - I knew that she had to feel the consequences of what she'd chosen to do.  She just seemed to feel that she could do anything she wanted and I would bail her out.  My sister found another charge card company that had a lower percentage and they switched the loan over.  OK, that was that.  She has had lots of trouble even affording the $200 a month, and I really believe that she learned a lesson (crossing fingers).

BUT the other day, and this is the whole point of this thread, the bank sent a nice checkbook sized, bound packet of checks - the very same shape and size as the checks we order to put in our purse.  The accompanying letter said how convenient it would be to have these checks.  The recipient should put a couple in her wallet for those times when she wanted to purchase something large and didn't have the money!!!  I ripped the whole thing up and showed my mother and was still glad that I got to it first.  I think that some people with Dementia or even people like my mother who don't think of consequences could easily get these checks in the mail and quickly charge MANY THOUSANDS of dollars in loans.  I think they are a terrible enticement to the elderly and to other people who may be in financial trouble at this time.  I actually think it's unconscionable of the banks to do this.

I heard a statistic recently - don't know if it's accurate - maybe Molly knows.  If a person has a $5,000 loan and pays only the minimum payment requested each month, it would take 55 years to pay it off and after it's paid the borrower would have paid about $18,000 in interest.   Anyway, watch for these checks and warn your parents and cross your fingers that they'll believe you that they are BAD.
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billie jo

mary e, thank you for bringing this to the attention of all. this is a very damaging practice to lure not only the elders but anyone in today's economy. but the elders are particularly vulnerable. it seems like everyone wants something from our elders, hoping they still have money to get before they pass away. i can't tell you how often i have heard someone say 'it can just be taken out of my part of the inheritance.' i'm sorry, i know it is much broader a problem than just relatives with their hands out. so many seniors are on fixed incomes that just cover their expenses. anything extra thrown in is one thing too many. my grandma was known for giving anything she had to televangilists. she didn't seem to get it that my dad was ordering fuel for her, bringing her groceries, etc. our cousins were even asking for any money we sent her for christmas or birthday gifts. anyway, off the soapbox. this really frosts my buns. i have heard cousins saying "grandma, i need a car to get a job, a used one will do. can you write a check and i will make payments to you," or any combination of wants and needs to get money. sorry, but thanks mary for the heads up.

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That's very scary - we don't have that happening here in Australia, but there are all sorts of things that oldies can be scammed on - I have to watch the guys coming to the door looking for work - cut your trees, fix your guttering - sharks, all of them. If we need something done I only use legitimate tradesmen.
Talking about rellies looking for handouts - I have a cousin and his wife,dad always sends them a small check for Xmas - they only visit at Xmas and his birthday, don't bother to come any other time; anyway, lately the wife has been saying how they want to but a house and are saving for a deposit. She emailed me recently and said if I needed a break, she would be happy to come and look after dad for the day - well, he is quite ok to be left on his own for a day. Anyway, if they called over, dad is old-fashioned and would expect me to be here to make coffee or lunch for them. I replied to her saying they were welcome to visit whenever they liked, but I would be here.So, they have not turned up. My suspicion is that she wanted to get him on his own, to try and influence him to give them more money.
I hate having such a suspicious mind, but I would have welcomed them to take him for a drive or outing over the years, and they have never offered, so it makes me wonder.
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it's scary Mary, definitely. My mom is still with it enough to know not to use those things. But -- who knows in a year or two? It boggles my mind too, that they send this stuff out, willy nilly.

And what if the elderly person can't pay, or refuses to pay? What good does that do the bank/credit company?? Yeah they can raise the interest rate to some exorbitant amount, but HELLO, if the person can't make the minimum payment, they sure aren't going to be able to make that interest payment EITHER. It's so dumb. Then if they die - I believe the debt is (typically) erased? At least, with credit cards/checks - I think.

They can send the creditors after the dead person but I don't think that will do much! If my mom racked up thousands of dollars in debt as a result of using those checks, and she died, and the creditors tried to come after me I would just say "Too bad, so sad. You shouldn't be blindly sending those things out anyways! Especially to elderly people."

And this raises a possible issue now, I just realized -- if you folks have stuff set up in Trusts -- houses, accounts, whatever -- and you are Trustee or co-Trustee -- can these banks/credit co's come after YOU for the money, if your elderly one is bankrupt or deceased??

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Anne H

Mary E - thanks for the heads up on this. Unbelievable the things that we all have to be aware of and watch out for from reputable companies (let alone the scams!)  And I too have the thought- what if the elderly wont or cant pay?  What happens then?  I'm sure they'll come after them, but what if they have nothing to give?   just wondering if anyone knows.

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Hi Anne, well I imagine first they go through the Collections route -- trying to scare the person into paying - you know, sell their house or get an equity loan so they can pay off the bank/credit card co. -
the collections people will try for MONTHS AND MONTHS, trust me --
then if that doesn't work, if the elderly person just ignores all the dire notices and phone calls from the Collectors, then they can file a judgement with the court (the Collector) which puts a lien on assets...
but when does the lien ever come into effect, that I don't know!!
I've never heard of a person who owed a debt, end up in jail or lose their house/car, I think it just goes on and on into oblivion, the collectors trying to collect, etc.
Some debt or liens never gets "erased", or the person can finally declare bankruptcy. But they have changed the laws on that as well.
Try going onto your local county's website, into Clerk of Courts, and look up cases based on judgement liens, there are tons of them, and some of these cases have sat there for YEARS!

(the reason I know all this is because the ex-wife of a friend of ours is basically a con, and she has several liens against her, as she took out many education and car loans and never paid them back and STILL hasn't paid apparently, ten years later)

but someone more knowledgeable than me may have some insight on this.

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Mary E.
I think that this bank (which is my mother's bank where she has her Social Security check and small pension direct deposited) mails out these "real checkbooks" to "certain customers".  In other words, previous to reading some of your posts I  figured they were mass mailings, but now I'm wondering if people in her category were specifically targeted.  (Lightbulb moment thanks to you guys.)  I always try to believe that institutions have good intentions and would NOT try something so nefarious, but now I'm wondering .

Beth - good point about the bank being able to go after the estate after the person dies. Maybe this is why they feel safe giving a loan to seniors who are barely scraping by - they would probably be able to collect after the person's death.  If I were getting really paranoid I could almost imagine the originator of the mailings putting the "direct deposit" together with research that the person "owned" her home.  In my mother's case, her house has been in trust for 20 years and she legally does not own it, so her "estate" will be bankrupt after she dies.  She doesn't even have any savings they can go after.  I'm pretty sure the bank cannot go after trustees - yikes, something to make sure of. 

Again, watch out for these little checkbook sized packets of checks (which one could easily inset into a checkbook cover for "easy" accesss) according to the bank!!  I think Beth is correct that if a person wrote checks or if someone got hold of them (and bought a huge flat screen TV - the new staple of life) - that "loan" may eventually come right out of the estate. 
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Hi Mary,

Actually, I was saying in the case of those credit card/bank checks, I don't think anyone is liable for that debt after the person dies. It gets wiped clean. They can't go after the children or the Estate for it. At least, that is how it was 20 years ago, when my husband's father died! But granted, that could have changed by now. His credit card debt was cleared. But it wasn't for thousands of dollars, of course.

Now -- checks from the local bank? That, I don't know!

My point was about trusts -- if the parent's assets are in a trust, and the adult children are listed as the trustees, then it is very possible the credit card co's or banks can go after those assets to pay off the debt. If the parent is still listed as part of the Trust?? Or maybe that is not how Trusts work. I guess someone would have to look at all the legal mumbo jumbo regarding their particular setup.

I'm so glad my Mom's stuff is not complicated!! And that she does not use credit cards. But she still gets tons of credit card offers in the mail, and yes, with those convenient checks enclosed!! Ick.

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