HELP LINE: Remain vigilant against scammers

Take survey on area plan for Olympic Area Agency on Aging

IT’S TIME FOR a little bit of this and that.

Here’s a this:

The bad guys are still at it and, sadly, we’re still going for it; specifically, scam phone calls involving our Social Security numbers.

In one version, the caller says that your Social Security number has been linked to a crime (often, in Texas — I don’t know why) involving drugs or sending money out of the country illegally.

Because of said nefarious activity, says the caller, your Social Security number has been blocked, so you’ll need to pay a fee to reactivate it or to get a new number.

Of course, you’ll need to confirm your Social Security number in order for this to happen.

In other variations, it might be that your Social Security number has been used to apply for credit cards and you could lose your benefits or that your bank account is about to be seized, so you’ll need to withdraw your money, and he’ll tell you how to keep it safe.

To add insult to injury, your caller ID might even show Social Security’s real phone number. (For those of us who have it memorized.)

It’s all BS! Social Security will never call you and ask for your Social Security number. And they won’t threaten your benefits or ask you to pay anything.

Never give your number to anyone who contacts you this way.

Don’t confirm the last four digits, don’t give bank account or credit card information and don’t agree to send money anywhere to anyone in any way.

If you’re honestly concerned about something that’s been said to you, hang up and call Social Security yourself at 1-800-772-1213 or you can call any of the numbers at the end of this column and talk it over with a genuinely decent person for free.

Keep your money for yourself and take care of you.

Speaking of taking care of you, here’s a that:

You might or might not have ever heard of Olympic Area Agency on Aging.

It’s our local version of Area Agencies on Aging that exist all over the country.

Their job is to plan for, administer and (in some cases) fund services and programs that help elders, people with disabilities and caregivers keep on keeping on, preferably in their own homes.

Every four years, Olympic is required to develop an “Area Plan,” that lays out its intentions for providing various forms of assistance.

This is one of those years, and this is where you come in.

You can actually chime in here, and speak your own piece about what you think Olympic Area Agency on Aging ought to be doing or paying attention to or (I suppose) not doing.

One way to do that would be to go to or go to their website at to complete a 23-question survey.

It’s anonymous, and I did it in about six minutes.

Prefer to be on the phone? OK, call 1-360-379-5064 (1-866-720-4863) and ask to do the Area Plan survey, or ask them to mail you a paper copy.

Here’s what I can tell you: People will actually read it and people will actually think about it and people will actually do something about it, if they can.

Give it a shot before the end of May and be part of the solution, OK?

And, yes: “surveymonkey” is a real thing.

Another this: I did a column a while back on ways to avoid falls, because falls will put more of us in the ground (or, in a facility) than several major diseases combined.

An alert reader sent along another tip.

She advocates for Mesh Shower Slippers, saying that the sole is quite slip-proof while the mesh still allows the feet to be washed in the shower. She also said they go for $7 to $9, which beats the heck out of paying for an ambulance.

Who knew?

One last that: I did another column recently on the whole honey/dearie/sweetie thing that makes many of us nuts.

In response, I heard from a local gal who agreed that she thinks that, most of the time, the intentions of the honey/dearie/sweetie talkers are positive, but it still comes off as disrespectful and inappropriately “familiar.”

She concluded her email by relating a scenario in which a gentleman in a cowboy hat vaulted ahead of her to open a store door, saying, “There you go, Toots!”

Wow! I wouldn’t even call people I know Toots!

Especially if his name was Al.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing

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