Senior News from September, 2006
SEC Halts Investment Fraud Scheme
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an emergency action to stop a fraud operation that has bilked over $1.6 million from investors since 2003, most of them senior citizens. Allegedly, a company called One Wall Street, Inc. sold unregistered stock of its company to unsuspecting investors, and made false and misleading comments to attract funds. The fraudulent company claimed that it would soon make an initial public offering and that E*TRADE Financial Corporation was negotiating to merge with the company. Investors were disappointed to find out that their funds were instead being spent on personal expenses by the company's owners, including jewelry purchases, gambling, mortgages, and car loans. The SEC is currently seeking to freeze the company's assets and recover the ill-gotten gains.
For tips on how to invest wisely, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A New Year for Free Credit Reports
On September 1, 2005, Congress mandated that every consumer in the country is eligible to receive a free credit report, once a year, from each of the three consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This month marks a new year for credit reporting, and consumers who took advantage of receiving free reports last year are once again able to do so this year. NCPC encourages everyone to check his or her credit reports regularly for signs of tampering and identity theft.
The only authorized website to facilitate your free credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com. Other websites offering free annual credit reports are not to be trusted, as there will inevitably be some sort of catch. Some bogus websites even misspell the name of the original website in hopes to catch consumers who make typing errors. Avoid this trap by clicking on the free annual credit report link located on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website. Spam email and pop-up ads that offer this free service are probably scams, and they should be forwarded to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consumers who take advantage of www.annualcreditreport.com should close their Internet browsers after the transaction to ensure their computers and personal information is secure.
For more information, read the FTC’s “Your Access to Free Credit Reports.”
September is National Preparedness Month
September marks National Preparedness Month. NCPC encourages all Americans to plan ahead and be prepared for emergencies and natural disasters. By taking simple steps ahead of time such as stocking up on supplies, planning evacuation routes, and posting emergency phone numbers near the phone, your family and loved ones can be prepared to deal with emergencies. Visit Ready.gov for more information about National Preparedness Month, and the AARP website for more information specific to people with disabilities and special needs.
Background Checks for Nursing Home Staff Crucial
An ongoing criminal investigation in Missouri stresses the importance of criminal background checks on all nursing home employees. Recently, a mother and son allegedly stole from a nursing home facility and committed multiple counts of murder while they were employed there. Missouri, like most other states, only requires background checks on employees of long-term care facilities for crimes committed within that state. Although the state recommends out-of-state background checks on employees who have lived elsewhere within the past five years, it does not require them. Had the nursing home been required to perform a more thorough, or federal, background check on the two alleged suspects, they would have learned of prior convictions in other states. These convictions included the car-jacking of an elderly woman in Kansas, which would have disqualified them from nursing home employment.
Although this was an extremely rare case, it may compel more states to require more thorough background checks on nursing home employees. Long-term care facilities are generally understaffed and lack funding, which complicates efforts to properly screen all employees. Furthermore, the vast majority of nursing home employees are genuinely dedicated caregivers. Still, these facilities need to perform more thorough background checks on all employees to ensure that cases like the one in Missouri are not repeated. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has initiated a pilot program in seven states to study the effectiveness of federal funding of background checks. Find out more at their website.