The West View

The West View

By Marilyn Shelton

It’s summer, and that means the kids are out of school. But wait, according to the Utahns Against Hunger website, summer also means, “When school lets out, millions of low-income children [across the country] lose access to school breakfast, lunch, and after school meals.”

The Salt Lake City School District’s Summer Food Service Program fills this gap locally by providing free meals to children who might have limited access to nutritious food in the summer. Meals are served at 29 different public sites around Salt Lake City, including 17 schools and 12 parks, as well as the Main Library. Most of the sites are located on Salt Lake City’s west side.

The program is free for all children, ages 18 and under. No enrollment, paystubs nor proof of income is required. All children and families need to do is find a site near them and show up, explained Utahns Against Hunger Executive Director Gina Cornia.

Children can eat their free meals outside on the lawn or on picnic tables at the park or inside the school cafeteria, depending on the site location. Childcare is not provided. School sites serve breakfast and lunch, while the park sites only serve lunch. Adults may purchase meals for $3-$5.

Each meal is created by a dietician and also meets the nutritional menu guidelines and portioning set by the USDA. This means healthy baked not fried meals, whole grains, vegetables and more.

One mother eating lunch at Sherwood Park in early July said that her children preferred the meals served at the park. “When I make food at home, they are so picky, but they love the food here,” said Mary. “It helps with our budget, and the dishes, and gets the kids outside,” she added.

Utahns Against Hunger, a nonprofit anti-hunger organization that has been serving the state for 30-plus years, promotes child nutrition programs, like the state’s Summer Food Service Program, the National School Lunch Program, and the Utah Breakfast Expansion Team.

“[We are] not a food pantry, but rather an advocacy and outreach program whose mission is to increase access to food across Utah,” said Utahns Against Hunger Executive Director Gina Cornia.

It promotes these programs through social media outreach, flyers, press releases, and meetings with congressional delegates to educate them on the need to protect funding for federal Child Nutrition Programs, which are reimbursed through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Through the Utah Breakfast Expansion Team, Utahns Against Hunger was able to increase school breakfast participation by seven percent, said Cornia.

Child hunger statistics in Utah: 

*According to Feeding America, a network of national food banks, 1 in 7 children in Utah faces hunger.

*National School Lunch Program data from 2018 revealed that 1 in 3 school children in Utah receive their meals for free or reduced price.

Cornia likes to have people call for information on The Summer Food Service Program because it gives them a chance to talk to them about additional resources such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps) or

Utahns Against Hunger has coordinated the acceptance of SNAP at over 20 Utah farmers markets as well. According to the USDA, SNAP redemptions at Utah farmers markets increased by over 1200 percent between 2008 and 2016, with the help of the organization.

“We [Utahns Against Hunger] started the Double Up Bucks Food Program, which allows people additional money to buy Utah-grown fruits and vegetables, so it is really a bonus for low-income people who use their SNAP to buy fresh produce because it creates new customers for farmers and then that money stays in the local economy,” Cornia said.

“We really just encourage the whole community to come out to ensure the anti-hunger initiative and to make sure that kids have access to healthy foods when school’s not in session...There are so many additional benefits our Summer Food Service Program can provide than just the meals themselves. It gets kids off the couch to the park or the library and to see other kids. That’s what we love to see,” said Matt Anderson, Child Nutrition Coordinator for the Utah State Board of Education.

The Salt Lake City School District’s Summer Food Service Program runs from June 10-Aug. 13. Times and days of operation may vary from site to site, so please inquire about days and times. All sites will be closed Wednesday, July 24.

To find a Summer Food Service Program site near you, text the word, “FOOD” to 877-877, call the Utahns Against Hunger Hotline toll-free at 1-800-453-FOOD, or to speak directly with Utahns Against Hunger Executive Director Cornia or her staff, call 801-328-2561.

The West View offers an authentic look into Salt Lake City’s west side – an area that has been historically undervalued and misrepresented.

The purpose of West View Media, the nonprofit organization that produces The West View paper and online content, is to inform, inspire and connect readers to generate positive change in Salt Lake City. Community members volunteer to write and provide photos for the stories they feel are newsworthy.

Recently, we launched a West View Teen Newsroom that meets weekly at the Glendale Library on Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. This is a partnership between the Salt Lake City Library and West View Media, with support from University Neighborhood Partners.

The Teen Newsroom is a safe space for teens to express themselves and to be heard. With guidance, they will explore their community and their lives through writing, multimedia storytelling and journalism. To find out more, please visit our website at www.westviewmedia.org or call us at 385-355-0910. You can also simply show up at the library!

It is with great sadness and respect that we mourn the loss of a beloved and influential west-side community member, Robert “Archie” Archuleta, who passed away on January 25, 2019. Archie spent a lifetime working for social justice, peace and equality; was the founding leader of Utah’s Chicano Movement; and served on countless boards and commissions throughout his life. A well-attended and moving celebration of his life was held on March 2 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Our condolences go out to his family, especially his wife, Lois. He is sorely missed and will always be remembered.

We would be remiss not to pay tribute to Archie in The West View, since he was a longtime supporter, cheerleader and contributor to it. He served and guided West View Media on the Board of Directors for six years. It was Archie’s hope that The West View would continue to tell our authentic stories and bridge the divide between east and west sides of the city.

by Olivia Juarez

A huge smile had its way on my face after my first volunteer experience in Rose Park with an organization called Peaceful Uprising in 2012. My service experience was spent walking door-to-door, asking neighborhood residents about their thoughts on living next to oil refineries and the harmful impact of tar sands refinement on community health.

I encountered residents whose kind faces became sullen when saying that their kids have been hospitalized for asthma attacks. Others told me that they made their living at those plants, and that they wouldn’t change a thing. Regardless of people’s position on the matter, a golden sense of accomplishment emanated from my smile and my chest when I biked home. Years later, that volunteer experience and many others to follow actually paid off in the coming years. It helped me form a career out of environmental activism, helped me succeed in college, and qualified me for scholarships and internships. 

Volunteerism is a definite pathway to success. Offering your time in community service is an excellent way to be qualified for excellent jobs, get into the college of your dreams, and earn scholarships.

What does community service looks like in your imagination? If the image is of serving soup at a kitchen, or visiting with elderly, you’re not wrong. There’s more, though. It can look like being on the other side of an organization’s table at the 9th West Farmers Market, speaking to the public about a public issue. It can involve landscaping a community radio station. It can be giving, like running a drive for menstrual hygiene products. It can be administrative, like helping a local nonprofit with membership services.  Or it can be creative: from making sleeping pads, to writing an article for your local newspaper!

Each of these service opportunities gives you three important skills that employers and internships are looking for. First, they often require interacting with people you do not know, improving your public speaking skills and your ability to be a team player. Second, it shows you are self-motivated. Employers want to hire people who can be their own boss – the volunteer experience on your resume demonstrates that you can self-direct and contribute to your workplace. Finally, volunteering is the best way to get experience in a career field. If you’ve ever been stumped by the line “two years of experience” on a job posting that you don’t have, fear not! The time you spend volunteering at an organization or in a community service role that gives you that experience counts.

Colleges and scholarship funders also value volunteerism because they want to see students succeeding outside of the classroom. Getting into college with scholarships is about more than GPA; it’s also about willingness to bring what you learn into the community. When you can write about service experiences in admission or scholarship essays, the people reading your essay will see a community member they know is going to do good in the world. Having volunteer experience is an excellent way to stand out and get into your dream school.

These service experiences pay off in terms of job experience and feeling deeply satisfied. But what about paying off your bills? Keep an eye out for stipended volunteer opportunities that provide a small amount of money for your service. Organizations like Spyhop, YouthWorks and Uplift have these opportunities.  Also, be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities at work. You can volunteer to get recycling bins at your workplace, organize rideshares, or start a project to make your workplace better.

Today, when I ride my bike home from work, the same golden feeling I felt when volunteering seven years ago emanates from my chest. I live in the satisfaction that my work efforts are driven by what I’m passionate about; it’s not always easy, but it’s always meaningful and worthwhile.  My volunteer experiences set me up for success on my career path in environmental advocacy, and through college. It can do the same for you.

Olivia Juarez is Latinx Community Organizer at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. To volunteer in Salt Lake City and in the wild, email or visit SUWA.org.

By Joaquin Galvan

Realistic goals are important when it comes to money. The average person’s short-term financial goals should be simple: Try not to rack up too much debt, and find a steady job. When making financial goals, you should consider these three values: independence, stability, and security. 

Investing is key to acquiring wealth. I try to remember my FIOA – the Financial Investment Options of an American. The primary place for passive investments is government security, for example, Treasury securities or U.S. Savings Bonds, because they have low risk or no default risk.

Non-governmental bonds are very liquid, meaning they can easily be sold, but you won’t make much money buying and selling them; they have almost no return. However, most are exempt from state and local taxes.

Certificates of Deposits are another investment option. However, a third party should be involved; there is some liquidity risk (losing money) without someone handling your money.  The inflation on these investments is something that you should be aware of. Typically every year the inflation is three percent.

Investment in precious metals is another time-honored, secure option. The net investment of precious metals has a long history in America. The dollar used to be tied to the price of gold. However, President Nixon took us off of the gold standard in 1971 because of domestic shifts in the country. Precious metals remain good investment in the sense that the government will always buy them.

There are many types of investors, however, investing in small businesses or stocks requires careful research, because of the liquidity risk. It must be considered that the money that is tied up with an investment may get locked up and could be inaccessible in a time of crisis. It’s risky to invest in the stock market because of this.

One of the benefits of secure, stable and accessible investments is that you can claim them on taxes. The higher the liquidity, the more likely they would be exempt from state and local taxes.

There is a saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” When I was in Ecuador, I learned that chickens aren’t the only things that lay eggs. Many animals lay eggs and managing your money in this way is diversification of investments. Snakes tend to eat eggs and credit loan ads on the radio are the same to your pocket book.

If you are considering investing, it would be wise to get some financial education or advice. Some banks and credit unions offer free financial advise, and another valuable resource is local nonprofit AAA Fair Credit. Visit the website a https://faircredit.org.

Joaquin Galvan is a 24-year-old native of the Guadalupe neighborhood. He took a class in family economics at the University of Utah, and reads The Wall St. Journal and Barron’s in his free time. He hopes to build wealth investing in beanie babies.

 

by Lila Sweeney

You probably have heard the saying that working at a job you love will no longer be work, but instead it will be your joy and passion. But, if you are a person who has no idea what that job is, you may be on a search for the perfect fit – and that may take some time. 

Like shopping for clothes to wear for a special event, you may try on several styles before you decide what fits you best. 
You may start out picking grapes in a vineyard like I did for my first job. Not my dream job, but somewhere to start. Or work at McDonald’s like my two oldest grandsons. Only a beginning until something better came on the horizon. Besides being a grape-picker, my future occupations included a receptionist, an accounting clerk, a homemaker and eventually a mom. This range of experiences may have prepared me for my eventual occupation.

As a mom of two lively sons, we visited the library as a diversion from their boredom. Those weekly visits steered me in the direction of my future job. A wanted ad in our local paper sent me on my way. Now, instead of being a mom finding books for my sons, I was perusing the stacks for books as a library clerk.  Although I spent a great deal of time at the library prior to working there, it never entered my mind that this was my dream job. Seeing books come down the conveyor belt to be checked in was like going to a candy store with a selection beyond my imagination. 

There’s also the time-honored way to get your dream job, and that is by whom you know. Sending out a hundred resumes and not getting a single prospect can be discouraging, but the light at the end of the tunnel may just be a family friend who can guide you through the labyrinth. Of course, headhunters and temp agencies are there to help as well.

Depending on your needs besides money or how you envision yourself in that newly found job, there is a lot of variety in the job market. Like the Uber driver who enjoys driving with the added perk of making his or her own hours. Or the person who makes money recovering electric scooters. House sitters and dog walkers continue to be necessities. Granted, these jobs may not necessarily be high-paying, but they may fill a temporary niche in your life.

Cindy Joseph was first a mom then a makeup artist when she was approached by a modeling agency at the mature age of 49. In her own words, she was an unlikely candidate for a model, being of smaller stature and sporting her naturally gray hair.  Eventually, she became the CEO of a cosmetic company and a spokeswoman for the Pro-Aging Movement.   

Whether you are 8 years old and refurbishing golf balls to resell or writing a book at the ripe age of 80, dream. Dream big or dream small, but dream. A successful endeavor requires a dream – a paraphrase from the Good Book.

Lila Sweeney is the mother of two sons, grandmother of six, and a mentor for three children. She has worked at her local library in Erie, Pa. for the past 18 years and looks forward to being involved in the Salt Lake area soon.

By Nigel Swaby

In Salt Lake City, there are many resources for people experiencing homelessness. To find them all in one place, the Weigand Homeless Resource Center of Catholic Community Services hosts space for representatives from different service providers.

Many people know the Weigand Center as a place to get a free hot meal twice a day but it also houses all the resources needed for a disadvantaged person to get back on their feet. Starting with showers, lockers and laundry facilities, this downtown facility next to the Road Home at 437 W. 200 South also provides a “homeless court” every other Friday, job fairs, representatives from the Department of Workforce Services and help finding housing assistance. And if an applicant lacks clothes suitable for a job interview, a side room is filled with clean clothing that can be borrowed.

Later this year, when the Road Home closes, Catholic Community Services will remain open and continue to offer services. The group also won the bid to operate the mixed-gender resource center on Paramount Avenue. According to Matthew Melville, Director of Homeless Services for the center, the organization is planning to start a culinary training program to help provide better paying jobs for those exiting homelessness.

About seven blocks away from the Weigand Center is Maud’s Cafe, at 422 W. 900 South. Operated by the nearby Volunteers of America, Maud’s provides employment training programs for homeless youth. VOA has won the contract to operate the women’s resource center on Hope Ave.

On 622 W. 100 South, another food-related employer provides job opportunities for women leaving homelessness. The Green Team Farm, part of Wasatch Community Gardens, provides employment and a 10-month agriculture course.

Over at Workforce Services on 42 S. 200 East, a contracting business owner is meeting with staff to see if he can hire some workers for his construction company. He doesn’t care if they may have a criminal past. He’ll even provide them tools and training.

For most people experiencing homelessness, programs like these work. They provide the push and opportunity for those actively seeking help. However, those who are chronically homeless, don’t always benefit from such programs. One former addict I spoke to said people over their head in drug addiction don’t look for work or services. Others suffering from mental illness lack resources like transportation or sometimes the persistence necessary to see success.

Next door at the Road Home on 210 S. Rio Grande, only two case managers serve the nearly 1,000 people who obtain shelter each night. According to Matt Minkevitch, executive director of the Road Home, about 16 percent of the residents use about 60 percent of the beds. He suspects this ratio is similar in cities throughout the nation.

Some folks experiencing homelessness or joblessness do so because of physical limitations. For them, shelters provide relief while they navigate getting disability or Social Security benefits, which can take months or years to be awarded. “Lenny” developed an infection that claimed part of his leg. His mother died and her home was foreclosed on. He also lost his job due to his illness. After the amputation, Lenny was discharged from the hospital with nowhere to go. He spent 14 years on the streets until very recently when someone helped him get disability and a temporary shelter. Others simply fall through the cracks. “G” explained to housing outreach volunteers one freezing January morning she has a housing voucher, but can’t find a place to rent because of her poor credit. Some of those in the “system” get frustrated with road blocks and simply withdraw completely when a case manager could help overcome obstacles.

There are only two ways in to the Other Side Academy, an employment-based drug treatment facility just east of downtown; write a letter from behind bars or sit on the bench. Inside their back door is a wooden bench. Buzzing around it are staff and other Academy students. For someone who has hit rock bottom with their drug use, this bench may be their only way to recovery without incarceration. Some spend eight hours sitting on the hard wooden bench contemplating their future. The average student has been arrested 25 times and spent several years in prison. The Academy offers counseling and employment through its moving company and shelter. Students work their way up in the  two-year minimum  program.Upon completion, graduates can stay on as counselors to others or walk away with the savings they’ve earned and start a new life.

As the new homeless resource centers open later this year, let’s understand as a community a holistic approach is needed to address people facing homelessness. A lot of great programs and organizations are in place. To fully benefit from the sizable investment made during Operation Rio Grande, we need to provide more people, not more programs, to best help our most vulnerable members of society.

By Katherin Nelson

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, according to Prisonpolicy.org. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2016, there were almost 2.2 million offenders in confinement. That’s a population greater than many of the largest U.S. metropolitan cities, including Dallas and San Diego. For those who are released, finding stable employment is crucial to rehabilitation. But a criminal record can impose challenges like limited employment opportunities and preparedness, making the task of entering the workforce an uphill climb.

“My biggest challenge getting a job after I got out was not having the education that I should,” says Andria Atwood, who was first incarcerated at the age of 19. “It’s hard to go into places and take a chance on getting rejected. I just settled at the lower end of the totem pole.”

Many of the jobs available to offenders are low-paying, making it difficult not to turn to illegal sources of income.

Nick Ward, a shift leader at Orange Street Community Corrections Center, a halfway house on Salt Lake City’s west side, says, “The hardest part that we are running into now is that a lot of the jobs that our residents get are not a high enough living wage for them to transition out of here.”

Crasaun Johnson spent years in and out of prison before he found an employer that paid a living wage who would take a chance on him.

“I was walking a mile at 3:00 a.m. every morning to take the train to this job that didn’t even have enough hours for me and was also compromising my job search time, so I was going nowhere,” he said. “I wasn’t ready, and I ran from probation.”

Although finding suitable employment is difficult, Ward says, it remains the most important part of successful reentry into the community.

“Stable employment lowers the risk of reoffending drastically. It’s one of the biggest factors as far as criminogenic needs,” he said.

The dichotomy between the freedom of the outside world and the staggering amount of structure of a halfway house can be daunting to those reentering the community. Both Johnson and Atwood weren’t able to complete their first program at a halfway house before being sent back to prison.

“The first time I went to a halfway house, it was overwhelming, and I ran. There is so much structure and stress. But, it’s been good for me this time,” Atwood said.

However, staff at Orange Street believe that the structure at halfway houses is designed to provide the support needed for offenders to reach their goals. Spencer Turley, regional administrator at Orange Street, said, “Our number one focus as an agency is successful felon reentry … it reduces recidivism and increases public safety.”

The structure, combined with community resources Orange Street connects their residents to, provides a path for offenders to transition into hard-working contributors to the community.

Although Ward says some employers won’t hire felons at all, he repeatedly has companies requesting more applicants from Orange Street because they provide such quality employees.

“I got an email from the owner of a bakery that said, ‘I currently have one of your offenders that works for me and he’s the best employee I’ve ever had. Can you send me another one?’” Turley said.

Amanda Kloepfer, a general manager at a local transportation company, has hired offenders in the past and believes there are benefits. In her experience, offenders have worked diligently, she believes, because they’ve been given a chance that can be hard to come by.

“She actually progressed faster than any of our other employees because I felt like she wanted to prove herself,” said Kloepfer of an offender she employed. “She worked her way up, and within a year of her employment, she became a lead for her team because of her work ethic and dedication.”

Although Kloepfer’s decision to hire an offender is made on a case-by-case basis, she says she wouldn’t hold it against someone if they did have a felony.

The opinions on the availability and effectiveness of training programs differ from the staff at Orange Street and the offenders interviewed.

“In prison they sent me to a class to write a resume and go to a mock interview, but I couldn’t go to the classes I needed to get skills to get the jobs,” says Johnson.

But Liam Truchard, information specialist at Utah Department of Corrections says, “Davis Technical College teaches a number of courses and programs for men and women. Anything from machine work, to welding, to a women’s program for cable installation … a lot of these guys come out ready to go with 1200-hour certificates.”

However, the level of commitment and dedication required by the offenders is something upon which both groups agree. Since her release, Atwood has is completing a yoga teacher training in May, hopes to teach yoga at recovery centers, and is focusing on “continuing a normal life.” As for Johnson, he consistently works over 40 hours a week as a cement truck delivery driver. He is also preparing to return to school to study law in order to make a positive impact on those who may endure experiences similar to his own. Although he took correspondence courses while in prison and earned a paralegal diploma, he was unable to put those skills to use after incarceration because of restrictions put on felons.

There are various community programs designed to provide assistance and support to offenders, such as Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness — for substance abuse support, Journey of Hope – for housing resources, Department of Workforce Services — for employment resources, and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — for education assistance.

To offenders struggling to find employment, Ward says, “Be honest about your past and about where you want to be, and you’ll get people will take a chance on you. People get off probation and parole successfully every day. It will happen; you just have to work at it.”

And, for employers interested in providing the opportunity every offender needs, information can be found on the Utah Department of Corrections website. Corrections.utah.gov references federal tax incentives of $2,500 per employee and protections against employee theft or dishonesty ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Orange Street staff hopes that employers will join them in their mission to support successful reentry to those that have been incarcerated.

Turley says, “Offenders are absolutely worth a chance because so many of them have goals and aspirations. … When they get the chance, they take it and run, and they’re unbelievably good employees.”

by Lisa Kolstad

Article 1, Section 2 of our U.S. Constitution requires that a census – an accounting of each person living in the United States – shall take place every ten years. The first census was taken in 1790, and the count was used to determine taxes and proportional representation in congress, meaning the most populous states got more congressional representatives.

The task of counting every person in our nation has always been a huge undertaking, but it has changed over the last 230 years. How and who we count has been addressed in at least three constitutional amendments and the questions have changed. For example, the first census had six categories, and inquired about gender, race, relationship to the head of household, and the number of slaves, if any. They only collected the name of the head of household, and slaves counted as only three-fifths of a person. It wasn’t until 1820 that the U.S. Census Bureau added a question about income.

The 2020 census, which will mark the 23rd census of our country, will be tracking number of people in each household, and will include questions about marriage, race, age, gender and more, and there is still an unresolved legal controversy surrounding the possibility of including a question regarding citizenship.

Even though census responses are confidential by federal law, many worry that if a citizenship question is included, families with individuals of mixed immigration status may not complete the census due to fear of being deported. The Census Bureau states: “By law we cannot share your information with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies or allow it to be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics.”

Each census provides unique challenges and many questions. How does the census affect each of us, our communities, our state, and finally our country? The census does not only affect us politically by reapportioning seats in the House of Respresentatives and realigning congressional districts, but also affects other parts of our lives – from the economy to education – for the next ten years. The census count affects the formulas that distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds each year. That’s why it is important to count everyone.

This year, the census will be conducted online for the first time, and it can also be taken over the phone. For the people who respond electronically, it will only take about 10 minutes. Paper documents will be mailed to those who do not respond online. And for those who fail to respond in either format, census field workers will go door to door to try and get an accurate count of these “hard-to-count” populations.

The Census Bureau is currently looking to fill temporary jobs in all areas including field agents (address canvassers and census takers), recruiting assistants, office staff and supervisors. The length of employment will depend on the job, with some jobs starting right away and others not beginning until early next year. The pay scale starts at $17.00 an hour and goes up as job responsibilities increase.

If you are at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen with a Social Security number, you can investigate and apply for census jobs online at 2020census.gov. You can also learn more at census job fairs that are currently being held in local libraries and community centers. The census is an important event that helps ensure our democracy can operate fairly and smoothly. In order for that to happen, many part time, temporary jobs will need to be filled. This is a great job opportunity for seniors, college students and others looking to supplement their income.

pdfCensus 101

pdfCensus Infosheet

By Katherin Nelson

Imagine receiving a phone call late at night informing you that a family member is in jail and needs to be bailed out. This kind of information can cause panic, worry and desperation for those on the receiving end. It can also result in those well-meaning relatives shelling out thousands of dollars to bail out a person who is not even in jail. This type of call is one of the many common scams being run to convince people to hand over money by preying on vulnerable populations and creating a sense of urgency.

“I think that the first step in preventing these scams is awareness because almost all of them have a common theme where they catch you unaware, get you on the phone and push you to do something immediately,” said Brent Henry, a vice president of engineering at a cyber security company who taught a community awareness class on protecting finances and identity.” Henry decided to teach this class at his local church in Millcreek when he started hearing numerous stories about older adults getting scammed in his community.

According to Henry, one of the most common scams targeted at older adults is a phone call from someone claiming to be either an IRS employee or a police officer. During these calls, the caller demands an immediate payment and threatens a fine or jail time if immediate action isn’t taken. Other scams include phone calls informing someone of a virus on their computer with the caller recommending the installation of a “cleanup tool” that is actually a virus or ransomware. Other common scams come in the form of direct solicitation at your doorstep for alarm or solar systems that have free equipment, or 100 percent financing, but require immediate action.

These scams are often targeted at older adults because they may have cognitive issues or be, as Henry believes, “more trusting,” than other populations. However, there are frequently red flags that can help older adults, and any targets, identify the validity of the call or offer.

“The IRS doesn’t contact you by phone, they contact you by mail and don’t require immediate payment,” says Nate Wharton, who has worked in banking for over five years and has witnessed clients affected by scams. “A lot of these things play into some kind of fear and threaten things like arrest in order to create a sense of urgency and panic to coerce targets,” Wharton says.

Wharton claims that scammers are getting better at circumventing situations where safeguards, such as financial fraud prevention systems, would be triggered. “I haven’t seen a situation where one of these scammers required a large transaction in several years. Now they’re making use of other avenues to get money, like having people buy a series of Visa gift cards that total several thousands of dollars.”

So, how do you know when you’re being targeted by a scammer, or you actually have a relative in need, or a virus on your computer? Henry cautions to be aware of any situation where someone is trying to browbeat you into taking action. “Anyone who is in a hurry, and using high-pressure sales tactics is probably trying to rip you off. Take your time, talk to friends, and get other opinions.”

Wharton says he’s been able to prevent clients from completing transactions with scammers because those targeted simply called their banking institution for a second opinion.

A lot of information is available online about common scams and fraud prevention. When asked how he became a scam expert, Henry responded, “a lot of googling.”

“There is a lot of great information published by local and federal governments, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention until something bad happens,” said Henry. Some websites Henry used in his class include http://consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identity-theft, and http://optoutprescreen.com.

The best way to stay abreast and aware of these scams is to talk about it.

“It’s good to talk to your friends, neighbors, family about what may be an embarrassing moment for you, just because that’s part of the problem, we’re not talking about it,” says Henry.

 

¿Amigo o fraude? Cómo estar al tanto de las estafas dirigidas a adultos mayores

Por Katherin Nelson

Imagínese recibiendo una llamada telefónica avanzada la noche informando que un miembro de su familia está en la cárcel y necesita pagar fianza para salir. Esta información puede causar pánico, preocupación y desesperación para quienes la reciben. También puede hacer que parientes bien intencionados desembolsen miles de dólares rescatando a una persona que ni siquiera está en la cárcel. Este tipo de llamada es una de muchas estafas comunes que crean una sensación de urgencia, se realizan para convencer a las personas desembozar dinero, y atacan a poblaciones vulnerables.

"Creo que el primer paso para prevenir estas estafas es la concientización, ya que casi todos tienen un tema común en el que, agarrándole desprevenido, le llaman por teléfono y le empujan a actuar inmediatamente", dijo Brent Henry, vicepresidente de Ingeniería en una empresa de seguridad cibernética quien enseñó una clase de concientización comunitaria sobre la protección de finanzas e identidad”. Henry decidió impartir una clase en su iglesia local en Millcreek al escuchar numerosas historias sobre adultos mayores en su comunidad que habían sido estafados.

Según Henry, una de las estafas más comunes dirigidas a adultos mayores es una llamada telefónica de alguien que afirma ser un empleado del IRS o un oficial de policía. Durante estas llamadas, la persona llamando exige un pago inmediato y amenaza con una multa o sentencia de cárcel si no se toman medidas inmediatas. Otras estafas incluyen llamadas telefónicas que informan sobre un virus en la computadora, la persona llamando recomienda la instalación de una "herramienta de limpieza" que es en realidad un virus o ransomware. Otras estafas comunes se presentan como solicitudes directas en la puerta de su casa ofreciendo sistemas de alarma o solares que cuentan con equipos gratuitos, o 100% de financiamiento, pero requieren una acción inmediata.

Estas estafas suelen estar dirigidas a adultos mayores que podrían tener problemas cognitivos o ser, como cree Henry, "más confiados" que otras personas. Sin embargo, a menudo hay señales de advertencia que pueden ayudar a los adultos mayores, y cualquier persona, a identificar la validez de la llamada u oferta.

"El IRS no se comunica con usted por teléfono, se comunica con usted por correo y no requiere un pago inmediato", dice Nate Wharton, quien ha trabajado en el banco por más de cinco años y ha sido testigo de clientes afectados por estafas. "Muchas de estas estafas siembran algún tipo de temor y amenaza, como el arresto, crean un sentido de urgencia y pánico y así obligan a sus víctimas", dice Wharton.

Wharton afirma que los estafadores están mejorando sus tácticas, evadiendo situaciones que activen dispositivos de seguridad, como los sistemas de prevención de fraude financiero. "No he visto, en varios años, una situación en la que uno de estos estafadores haya requerido una gran transacción. Ahora están haciendo uso de otras vías para obtener dinero, como que las personas compren una serie de tarjetas de regalo Visa que suman varios miles de dólares ".

Entonces, ¿cómo sabes si te está atacando un estafador, o si realmente tienes un pariente necesitado, o un virus en tu computadora? Henry advierte que debemos estar atentos a cualquier situación en la que están tratando de intimidarnos para que hagamos lo que piden. "Cualquier persona que tenga prisa y esté usando tácticas de venta de alta presión probablemente está tratando de estafar". Tómese su tiempo, hable con amigos y obtenga otras opiniones ".

Wharton dice que ha podido evitar que clientes completen transacciones con estafadores porque los beneficiarios simplemente llamaron a su institución bancaria obteniendo una segunda opinión.

Hay mucha información disponible en línea sobre estafas comunes y prevención de fraudes. Cuando se le preguntó cómo se convirtió en un experto en estafas, Henry respondió, "googleando mucho".

"Hay mucha información excelente publicada por gobiernos locales y federales, pero no reciben mucha atención hasta que sucede algo malo", dijo Henry. Algunos sitios web que Henry usó en su clase incluyen http://consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identity-theft y http://optoutprescreen.com

La mejor manera de estar al tanto y mantenerse al corriente de estas estafas es hablando de ellas.

“Es bueno hablar con sus amigos, vecinos y familiares sobre lo que puede ser un momento vergonzoso para usted, porque eso es parte del problema, que no lo estamos hablando" dice Henry.

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