By John Toscano
Strangers Ringing Your Door Bell—They May Be Up To No Good
by john toscano
Incidents in New Jersey and on Long Island involving men posing as representatives of utility companies who gain entrance to homes of seniors in order to rob them have flared up again. Seniors in Queens should take note.
This ruse has happened in this borough in the past and likely will be tried again. This warning is intended to prevent the scam from succeeding.
Two ploys to gain entry to a home are mostly being used. The culprits ring a doorbell and announce there have been reports of gas leaks. They say they’re doing routine checks, or else they claim to be checking to see if the roof shows signs of water leaks.
Once inside the home, one intruder engages the homeowner in conversation while his partner goes through the house rummaging through drawers in search of cash or valuables. In the New Jersey case, the robbers hit it big, finding a cache of $80,000.
In some cases, unwitting victims have been assaulted when the intruders try to get the occupant to reveal where valuables might be kept after they find nothing .
The best way to avoid any such incident is to refuse entry to any strangers—period. If any stranger comes to the door, refuse entry and then call a neighbor, a relative or even the police.
Home improvement con artists also seem to come out of their holes as spring arrives.
Frequently, these are fly-by-night operators. They often drive trucks with out-of-state license plates and offer to check your chimney or roof. They do some damage that they then offer to repair. Often if they get a foot in the door, they will ask for a big down payment before starting the job.
Before handing over any cash or writing a check, stall them, ask for a name, address or telephone number and tell them you’ll be in touch with them. Try to get something in writing, too. After they leave, call your local consumer affairs department to check them out, call the Better Business Bureau, or have a friend or relative check to see if any work is really required.
One good agency to call is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, which has a national hotline, 1-800-611-NARI.
LOWERING DRUG PRICES: Like those of some other states, the legislature in Albany is considering bills to authorize state health officials to negotiate discounts on drug products with major pharmaceutical companies. Several major consumer groups and the AARP are behind the move. Call or write your local legislator or leaders of both houses to join in the campaign. Right now, there’s lots of pressure on the big companies to drive prices down, so a strong show of support can help win benefits.
BLIND VETERANS’ BENEFIT: A bill to provide annual adjustments to the blind veterans’ annuity so that recipients will not see a decrease in the value of the benefit has advanced in the Assembly under the sponsorship of Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood).
Nolan noted: "This annuity was recently increased through legislation I previously sponsored, but had not been increased for several decades, thus diminishing the value of this important benefit. Presently, this veterans’ benefit is set at a fixed amount in law and will lose value again as it is not indexed for inflation. Action by the legislature would be required each time an increase was desired."
The bill would allow for recipients of the benefit to receive an annual increase so that it would not decrease in real value over time, Nolan said, and the annual increase would be based on increases calculated under the adjustment used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The annual adjustment would be a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 4 percent.