for release January 25, 2002
The Sandwich Generation . . . Helping Your Aging Parents
by Carol Abaya, M.A.
Are you juggling doing errands for your aging parents, your children, yourself and working at the same time? Are you tired, stressed out and upset that your once vibrant parent is now frail and needy?
Do you feel alone? Rest assured you are not alone! The Sandwich Generation is dedicated to the 50 million Americans who may have elder/parent care concerns and/or responsibilities.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Part 2 of 2
DEBT CONSOLIDATION SCHEMES BECOMING MORE AGGRESSIVE
With the increase in personal debt reaching record numbers and incomes, especially of older people being more limited, unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the situation.
The typical scene is something like this. You receive a letter saying you have been pre-approved for, say, $30,000 in order to consolidate your credit card debts. You only have $8,000 on your cards, but are paying a high interest rate. You'd like $12,000 to pay off current debts and to have some money in the bank.
You call the company and give them financial information over the phone. (First mistake. NEVER give financial information over the phone to someone you do not personally know.)
After a few minutes -- as the information is supposedly being processed -- one of two things might happen.
· You are told you have been approved and you will receive
in the mail papers to be signed. You receive the papers and do not read
EVERY word. You sign where necessary. When you finally receive a check
it is for $500 less than the amount requested. When you call, you 're told
that was the processing fee. Needless to say, they never told you that.
· In this case you'd like to consolidate the $8,000 from the credit cards and have $20,000 to do some remodeling.
You are told a debt consolidation loan cannot be given. But they will help you refinance your house totally so you can use some of the equity.
You agree to refinance your house for $80,000. This way you can pay off the credit card debt, do the remodeling, and buy some stock while the market is still low.
An appointment is made to close the transaction. You are told you don't need a lawyer, that they'll take care of everything. You go to the office (which is bare bones) and are faced with a stack of papers which you are supposed to sign right there, without having the chance to read them yourself or show them to your lawyer. And after you've signed everything, they hand you a check for only $72,000. You are told $8,000 is for closing costs and various fees.
* * *
Triggers for a scam:
· You receive a "pre-approved" letter, and they switch to a refinance situation. It's called "bait and switch." They've baited you with the words pre-approved.
· You are repeatedly told "Don't worry. We'll take care of everything. You don't need a lawyer."
· You are given numerous papers to sign in hurry, without having a chance to read them thoroughly yourself.
· Never deal with an unknown company on the phone.
· Always bring a lawyer to a closing involving real estate.
· Go to your local bank or the company that currently holds your mortgage for refinancing or an equity loan.
· In many states, consumers have two or three days to back out of a bad deal. Call your local and state consumer affairs agency or better business bureaus to complain. Or better yet, call before you deal with strangers.
* * *
Do you have a question? Send it in. Although letters cannot be answered individually, appropriate letters will be answered in this column whenever possible. Letters may be edited. Send letters to Ms. Carol Abaya, c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper (or mail direct to her at PO Box 132,Wickatunk, NJ 07765-0132) or e-mail her at SandwchGen@aol.com. Carol also has a web site: thesandwichgeneration.com.
Carol Abaya is an international-award-winning journalist and creator of the unique magazine The Sandwich Generation: You & Your Aging Parents.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 490 words; other material = 160 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the
"Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
©2002 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.
Return to The Sandwich Generation