Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Seniors beware of desperate workers

I was taking one of many walks a couple of days ago when my iPhone rang. Usually, it’s a wrong number, but sometimes it’s a friend or relative, so I looked on the screen and saw an unfamiliar phone number.

A shot at a job, I thought. Awesome. Or a wrong number.

It was from an outfit whose ads I had seen before, and the company had even e-mailed me that day. It was one of the many “financial services” companies that allegedly is dedicated to helping senior citizens with their money; specifically, separating said seniors from the burden of having money by selling them long-term annuities.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal (sure going to miss that paper when the subscription expires, unless I land a job soon) said it’s important to vet potential employers when their names aren’t familiar. That’s good advice, but it’s hard when the company is advertising on Craigslist. One outfit sent me a link to their site, which turned out to be a Better Business Bureau page. An attempt to visit their Web site by simply typing the URL in the part of the e-mail address after the “at” sign turned up one of those “domain available” pages, and a horde of pop-up ads.

So I had run the company’s name that morning on Google, and came up with a pile of comments about how the company that e-mailed me was associated with a well-known and notorious insurer in Florida, and how the job wasn’t a job but yet another “sales opportunity.”

In other words, no pay, no benefits, no 401k, no nothing. Just a chance to go door to door and bother retired folks in their homes with dubious financial services and advice, collect a commission, and have to pay it back when the folks realize they’ve been conned. There’s even a certification for people who try to gull seniors, something like “certified senior financial adviser.”

Well, I have to look in the mirror and even shave occasionally, and I want to make something that used to be called an honest living. Sales is a worthy job, but not when the person doing the selling is lying and the person doing the buying is being conned.

People my age – and younger and older – are seeing countless ads for such firms that want to tap into the senior market and relieve its denizens of their hard-earned money. My general guide, also garnered from my brother Robert, is that any company with “American” “Income” “Opportunity” or “-care” is probably not on the level.

So with all that in mind, I listened to the caller’s pitch, asked what the company did, how it got my phone number (from a listing in HotJobs, the caller said. It was probably picked up from Monster.com.) and then I said I was not interested in any financial jobs.

Well, I am kind of interested, but the job would have to be with a legitimate company that offers pay, benefits and so forth in exchange for my labor.

No matter how bad things are, I will not descend to becoming a front man for some operation that sets out to scam people. No way. No how.

Honesty isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life. If I lose everything else, I’ll always have my honesty and integrity. And I seem to have a lot of company.

I appreciate those brave folks who have told their stories online. They are the most important cautionary tales ever written.

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January 15, 2009 - Posted by | Living in the modern age, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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