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Advice from a departing Whistleblower

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Star Tribune
  • July 27, 2013 - 4:54 PM

In my time as Whistleblower, I’ve helped a nun get rid of $5,000 in fraudulent charges from her credit card bill that the bank was previously unwilling to remove.

I’ve put the spotlight on a derelict north Minneapolis garage that was finally torn down after years of pleas to the city by neighbors.

I’ve written about a couple whose insurance company refused to pay for flood damage despite a flood policy. The company changed its mind.

And I’ve written about scam after scam after scam.

This is my last column as Whistleblower. I retired last week to pursue my art interests, but I want to leave you with some observations and advice to tide you over until the next reporter picks up the whistle.

Here we go: Never buy a timeshare. There’s no aftermarket for it. You can’t give it away.

No one in Nigeria actually wants to give you half of $2 million of unclaimed money. They just want to clean out your bank account.

You didn’t win two mammoth sweepstakes in one week, neither contest of which you actually entered.

Don’t pay the tree guy in full until AFTER the stump is removed. Likewise with the blacktop salesperson or anyone else who knocks on your door.

Never give anybody who calls your bank account number, your credit card number, your PIN, your PayPal account password, your address or your cat’s name. Even if they’re nice. Even if they insist. Just hang up. Really, you’ll suffer no consequences. You won’t even offend the person, who’s used to it.

Never wire money to a person even if he sends you a check in the mail to cover the costs. The check is no good.

Never believe the caring doctor or police officer who calls and insists your grandchild has gotten into trouble in Canada. Hang up and call your son or daughter. The grandchild is likely at the grocery store with his college roommates buying frozen pizza. Dangerous? Maybe, but only after 2,000 such grocery runs.

Never buy a timeshare. When you can no longer afford the association fees or can no longer travel, you’ll find yourself desperately wanting to believe the people who call and say they have a buyer lined up. They don’t.

Rachel is forever

Rachel the robocaller from Cardholder Services will be bringing cockroaches to financial ruin long after all humans have passed from the earth. And the Federal Trade Commission will still be trying to shut her operations down. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought of that ’70s arcade game “Whac-A-Mole,” whenever a new scam or scammer has popped up.

The National Do Not Call Registry? A great thing to keep legitimate businesses from calling you. A great source of names and numbers for the bad actors.

Never quitclaim your timeshare to your children as a surprise gift.

If the FBI has implanted a monitoring device inside your body without your knowledge, I urge you to consult a health professional. Though I wish it were otherwise, Whistleblower can’t help you.

If a diabetic, overweight man who has just eaten a large meal dies while walking up a steep slope, it may be for other reasons than the land owner having allowed the bench halfway up the slope to rot away and be removed. Whistleblower can’t help with that either.

If you attend a dinner seminar, don’t start verifying the presenter’s statements on your smartphone until you’ve had a good chance to get through most of your dessert. You may be asked to leave.

Did I say, never buy a timeshare?

I have enjoyed my time as Whistleblower. I hope I’ve done some good. Thanks you for the kind comments and the interesting tips.

Live long and prosper scam-free, if you can. And all you naughty, naughty scammers out there: Just stop it.

 

Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852

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