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Advice & More July 2016

Summer Potpourri

By Teresa Ambord

Some of the ads went farther, claiming the programs are clinically proven to help improve the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, as well as conditions that affect younger people. Some of their ads using wording such as, “our results are clinically proven, scientifically measurable and permanent.” The Federal Trade Commission now says these claims are unproven and not based on solid science.

Scams to Avoid

The Federal Trade Commission keeps us up on scams that are making the rounds. Some are new, some are not, but they keep coming back because they are effective. Here are some of the latest that target seniors and people looking for summer fun.

  • Brain training. Have you heard the ads for Learning Rx, touting ways you can “train your brain?” It’s aimed at seniors, but also for anyone who wants to improve school grades or athletic performance, future earnings…so they say.

    Some of the ads went farther, claiming the programs are clinically proven to help improve the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, as well as conditions that affect younger people. Some of their ads using wording such as, “our results are clinically proven, scientifically measurable and permanent.” The Federal Trade Commission now says these claims are unproven and not based on solid science. LearningRx is working with the FTC to settle claims against them.

  • Food fraud! If you love to visit food festivals or other food-centered events, don’t buy a ticket until you’re sure there really is an event. Seriously… what won’t thieves think of? Knowing how we love to eat, scammers have begun to advertise online, selling great deals on “fun-and-fool-filled days of crab feasts, concerts” and similar events, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They may put beautiful pictures on social media sites, offering tickets at a great price. Who doesn’t love to eat?

    Unfortunately, when ticket holders show up hungry, the only thing they find there is a bunch of other ticket holders, wondering what happened. Here’s advice from the FTC that may help you avoid this scam:
  • Before you buy tickets, put the name of the event in a search engine, with the word “fake” or “scam” or “fraud,” to see if anything pops up. If other people have been victimized, chances are you’ll see reports of it.
  • Does the event list contact information? If so, call the number or send an email to see if you get an answer. If you leave a message but don’t get a return call, the FTC says, forget about it.
  • And of course, don’t give them a way to bill you for tickets. If you’ve already bought a ticket and got scammed, file a complaint with the FTC. Log onto ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
  • Summer and stealing go together. Some police departments are alerting the public that when the weather warms up, law enforcement sees an upsurge in theft reporting. To some extent, they attribute the increase to outdoor activity. A key target seems to be theft of items in unlocked vehicles and the cars themselves, both in residential areas and in public places such as retail stores. The most active hours for theft are late at night and early in the morning before light. It might seem elementary, but police can verify that people forget to lock their vehicles, and warmer weather means more people are out and about at night.

Police departments warn:

  • Don’t leave valuable items in your car.
  • Don’t leave any documentation in your car that reveals personal identifying information.
  • Watch for suspicious characters in the neighborhood, or loitering near vehicles where you park.
  • If you see a suspicious character, let the police know. Often all it takes to deter a would-be thief is for a police cruiser to drive through a parking lot or neighborhood.

 

Hot Dogs? If You Love Fido, Leave Him at Home

The weather’s heating up, and so is your beloved dog. Vets say if it’s too warm for you to sit in the car comfortably, imagine doing so with a fur coat. A parked car heats up fast, so according to many vets, 60 degrees outside may mean your parked car will soon be too warm for an animal, even if you park in the shade and leave windows open, and even for just a few minutes.

For home use, or for use in the car when you are there with him, you can get Fido a cooling pad that is pressure activated and doesn’t rely on electricity. Look for one that is chew-proof if your dog is a chewer. Amazon.com, Wayfair.com, and Coupaw.com all have them. But…beware even with a cooling pad, don’t risk Fido’s life in a too-warm car.

Just so you know, at least eight major retailers allow you to bring your dog inside (but call ahead because not all locations do). Among them, Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, PetSmart, Petco, Macy’s, and Bass Pro.

I’ve seen dogs many times in my local Walmart store, though unless the dog is wearing a service vest, someone will generally stop customers with dogs at the door and ask questions. For shoppers who are with another person, the Walmart worker sometimes asks one to sit with the dog on a bench near the door.

If your dog is with you and the only option is to leave it in a hot car, better to go home empty-handed.

 

And Speaking of Pets…Save on Pet Medicines

The cost of medications for your beloved pet can be huge, as veterinarians tend to apply very high markups. Many of the medications prescribed for your pet are the same ones humans take, but in a different dosage. Ask your vet if he or she will give you a prescription that you can fill at your drugstore. Don’t worry… the vet won’t prescribe these medicines if it’s not safe for Fido. Just don’t take it upon yourself to give him or her a people-med without asking your vet.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa