HED:AARP warns of possible scam
By Michaela Gibson Morris
Mississippi residents should be wary of estate planning packages invoking the name of a national senior citizens’ group.
The state Attorney General’s Office and regional American Association of Retired Persons office are warning senior citizens about the sale of living trust packages which are implying they have the endorsement of the AARP.
Although most the complaints about the possible scam made to the AARP office have come from Georgia residents, AARP Consumer Representative Steve Mehlman said the office has received complaints involving the sale of living trust packages implying the endorsement of the AARP in Mississippi, including one from a Shannon woman.
The postcard sent to the Shannon woman quotes a recent AARP report about the outdated probate process creating unreasonable legal fees and offers a free consumer guide if the card is returned to a Dallas Information Service Center, Mehlman said. In small type at the bottom of the postcard, there is a disclaimer stating the offer is not endorsed by the AARP or any government agency.
Seniors who have returned the postcards requesting the information have been visited by living trust sales representatives, who bought their names from information service center, according to Mehlman and the state Attorney General’s office.
Mehlman said some sales representatives imply that they work for AARP or the Association endorses their products.
“The fact is that AARP does not sell or endorse living trust packages, nor does it work cooperatively with any company that sells or markets such documents,” Mehlman said. “And we do not employ door-to-door representatives to sell or provide information on our health or casualty insurance, pharmacy services or any other member service program or benefit.”
A living trust is a written document, similar to a will, that allows a person to control the distribution of property, according to the AARP. Unlike a will, the property can be transferred to the trust while the owner still alive, and a living trust can help avoid lengthy probate processes. The AARP cautions a living trust may not be appropriate for everyone.
The state Attorney General’s Office said people should be wary of door-to-door living trust packages and should consult licensed and experienced estate planing attorneys or financial planners.
A free fact sheet on living trust fraud is available from AARP by request by writing to Consumer Representative, AARP, 999 Peachtree St., NE, Suite 1650, Atlanta, Ga. 30309.