YES on 1501 to protect vulnerable seniors, caregivers

johnson-16-ballot-measuresBy JEFF JOHNSON
One in a series of columns
on ballot measures

(Oct. 17, 2016) — Friday night at about 6 p.m.:

●  Is this Mrs. Simon?

●  Yes it is. Who’s calling?

●  Simon this John Powell from Anderson, Powell and Associates and I am calling about your grandson Adam. Adam in is some trouble and he needs your help.

●  Oh my, what has happened?

●  Adam was traveling in Mexico and he has been arrested. He is in a local jail waiting to be arraigned on possession of drugs and he needs some money for bail so that he can be released pending the trial.

●  What I didn’t even know Adam was out of the country…

●  Simon, Adam asked us to call you because he was embarrassed to call his parents and he knew that he could trust you. In order for us to get Adam released he needs $5,000 sent immediately either through a money order or through a credit card.

●  I don’t know, I am confused…

●  Simon, we don’t have much time left before they lock Adam up for the weekend and believe me…

Bad dialogue from a play? No. Unfortunately it was something that happened to some friends of ours, and they paid.

This type of fraud is played out on the elderly every day in this country. Criminals posing as IRS agents pointing out that you owe additional taxes under threat of huge penalties or as in the example above posing as an attorney just wanting to help out your grandchild, prey on the elderly and the vulnerable to the tune of about $3 billion a year. Since most cases are not reported the actual loss to seniors is probably quite a bit higher.

Initiative 1501 recognizes that fraud and identity theft causes huge emotional stress and personal financial loss to consumers, more often than not the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.

I-1501 increases civil penalties to three times the actual damages on criminals who defraud senior citizens and other vulnerable people. It prevents government from releasing information that could provide criminals with what they need to effectively target seniors and the vulnerable. It also protects the personal information of in-home caregivers.

Initiative 1501 is supported by the Washington State Senior Lobby, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, unions, and many others.

Please vote YES on I-1501 and help protect seniors and the most vulnerable from consumer fraud and identity theft.

Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 600 local unions and approximately 450,000 rank-and-file union members. This is one of a series of columns by Johnson about state and local ballot measures for 2016.

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