Grandmother receives threatening junk mail - daughters want action

Grandmother receives threatening junk mail - daughters want action »Play Video
CANYON COUNTY, Idaho - We all get solicitations in the mail, but what what happens when they become threatening? One Canyon County grandmother is afraid to be alone in her own house because they have gotten so bad.

It's easy for Kathleen, Sheila, and Gloria to tell their mother it's junk mail, but it's easier said than done.

The sisters don't want their last names used to protect her.

"We don't know how to stop it and let her know it's not real," Kathleen said. "To her it is real."

She receives up to 16 pieces of mail a day, and looking at it you can see how the 85-year-old would be frightened. One mailing is from the American Federation of Senior Citizens and it says if she doesn't send money now she could lose her Social Security benefits.

"She gets $800 per month and gives $200 because she's afraid they'll cut off her benefits if she doesn't," Kathleen said.

"It's very disheartening for someone who has worked and paid taxes," Gloria said.

The Truth Squad took the mail into Brett Delange, head of the Consumer Protection Division of the Idaho Attorney General's Office.

"Too many of these are flat out deceptive," Delange said.

He adds that you're throwing your money away when you give in to the mailings and setting yourself up to lose a lot of money.

"The reality, too, is once you give that's why you're going to get these things," Delange said. "You get on a sucker list and they sell you're information and they see if you'll give money to them too."

How can you stop the cycle? Through the Privacy Act you can end the advertisements. The problem is right now there's no way to do that for political and non-profit mailings.

"It's just not right and we don't know where to go," Kathleen said. "She's been afraid to stay alone because of it."

Delange says the most important thing to do is spread the word. He says if you're going to lose your Social Security it won't be because you failed to respond to a solicitation. Also, no one is going to show up on your doorstep.

If you are interested in opting out of getting advertisements in the mail
contact the Mail Preference Service, sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Include your name and address in all the various ways they appear on the junk mail you receive. Send your postcard to:

Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735
212-768-7277

Your name and address will be registered on the "Delete File," which is reportedly used by the majority of this organization's 3,600 members, who receive it four times a year (January, April, July, and October). So it could take three months or more for your wishes to be acted upon.

Once your name makes it to the "Delete File," it will remain there for five years.

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