Scum who scam elders and how we can fight them

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist – New York Times got my attention as someone who volunteers once a month for TeleCare to call the elderly to make sure they are ok. It’s a report on the criminal scum who prey on the vulnerable and the commercial entities that profit from helping them:

    Richard Guthrie, a 92-year-old Army veteran, was one of those victims. He ended up on scam artists’ lists because his name, like millions of others, was sold by large companies to telemarketing criminals, who then turned to major banks to steal his life’s savings. Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

What can we do about this situation? At the very least, we can learn to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the many around us about to avoid being scammed. Some links that seem to be helpful in this area come from various government agencies:

The AARP naturally has a page concerning how to avoid various types of fraud as a retired person. I would guess this info is useful for people of all ages.

The fact that infoUSA is a publicly traded company made me wonder how to easily figure out the reputation that any given corporate entity has. I know that you can look up basic financial info on sites like Yahoo! Finances (e.g., IUSA), which cover headline news. I have to do further research on this topic. For instance, do any of the “socially responsible” investment funds rate various companies and present that info in a publicly accessible form?

I will say that what I’m writing here is based trusting the New York Times. As a simple start, I can also do a search on Google News to see whether this coverage is vouched for by other news sources: infousa – Google News or Yahoo! News Search Results for infousa. I don’t see a lot of other coverage of this topic yet; I am curious as to how infoUSA will respond.

A very happy class open house!

I’m feeling very satisfied with the way the “Mixing and Remixing Information” (Spring 2007 edition!) ended yesterday with the Class Open House. My students did great, as they handled with poise the many questions of the interested crowds! Thanks to the members of the ISchool and campus community at large for coming to the Open House. Thanks especially to Laura for making signs for the students, arranging the food, and encouraging my students!

Now on to a deep focus on the book….

Westminster House in the NY Times

It’s nice to see an implicit mention of Westminster House, a Presbyterian campus ministry on whose board I served for six year, in Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus – New York Times:

    At Harvard, more students are enrolling in religion courses and regularly attending religious services, Professor Gomes said. Presbyterian ministries at Berkeley and Wisconsin have built dormitories to offer spiritual services to students and encourage discussion among different faiths. The seven-story building on the Wisconsin campus, which will house 280 students, is to open in August.