by Barbara Parrott McGinity, LMSW
This past week, I received an email about a new company offering a special, prepaid credit card designed to help protect older adults from losing money to scams and disreputable charity requests. At first glance, I was skeptical and thought the card itself could be a scam. But further research shows it might actually have value. Called the True Link Card, it can provide a layer of protection and help family members protect the vulnerable seniors in their lives.
How does it work? You register for a card online, then put money on the card through a bank account. The senior then uses this card to purchase items or make contributions to charities. How does this protect someone? Through the website, the family can actually block giving to particular companies or charities and they also receive notices of large expenditures for approval.
Where can this card be used? Anywhere Visa cards are taken. Why do this? These are heartbreaking and, unfortunately, very common stories we hear on a weekly basis: 1) an elderly woman receives a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandchild asking for money and she wires money to help her out of a jam; 2) a late night infomercial offers a deep discount on dishware without mentioning the hundreds of dollars in nonrefundable shipping fees; 3) a senior is confused about being the winner of a lottery and wires thousands of dollars overseas; 4) someone calls them about the poor starving children and please give money and we will send you a picture of the child you are saving.
Besides the phone calls and internet scams, there are the unscrupulous repair people who charge alot of money for work that was not necessary and poorly executed. Or the magazine subscription people going door to door. If you take the check book away and replace it with this card, the seniors will be unable to be victimized by door to door crooks.
The owner of True Link came up with the idea as a direct result of dealing with his grandmother who was writing up to 75 checks a month to organizations posing as charities. Monitoring her finances was taking up a lot of time, and they were looking for a way to protect her assets while at the same time providing her independence.
And that brings us to the most difficult issue, taking away a person’s financial independence. The True Link card may be the answer to helping protect a senior’s nest egg from a distance, while at the same time giving them continued independence with some constraints. If you are interested in reading more about the True Link, you can go to http://www.truelink.com and determine if this is something that would be good for you or someone in your family. Just remember, there can be just as many cons as pros, so think hard before going this route.