About Alaska Seniors

Candidate for Governor Charlie Pierce has committed, that when elected he will assign the Lt. Governor to be responsible for Executive Oversight of our senior programs and issues. In that new direction, I submit our view and my Executive duties for Alaska’s senior population.

Alaska’s senior citizens are the people who forged the wilderness, travelled throughout our great state and have retired here in the place we call home.

Unfortunately, our senior programs are taken for granted all too often. When the needs of seniors are brought to the attention of state legislators and those in the administration, their focus is elsewhere.

Alaska’s seniors on Medicare do not have access to Medicare Part “C” known as Medicare Advantage Plans. Instead, Alaska’s seniors must buy “supplemental insurance” for their Medicare which can cost almost $6,000 per year for a couple. As your Lt. Governor, I will encourage our Congressional and Senate legislators to go to Congress and change this discriminatory policy against Alaska seniors.

Prior administrations reduced senior benefits to appropriate money for bureaucratic projects. On inauguration day, Governor Pierce will order benefits to seniors restored to previous levels and veto any future action to reduce them.

Pioneer Homes are another important senior need in our state. Six Pioneer Homes provide housing and services for a maximum of 498 seniors. Alaska has 131,000 seniors and that number is growing annually. We can do better and We must do better and WE WILL DO better. With Edie Grunwald as Lt. Governor, I will order a comprehensive review of all senior affecting programs and take positive action to restore seniors to their rightful place in the culture of Alaska, including a detailed review of our Pioneer program and how to increase our ability to serve more Alaskans.

There are many issues affecting seniors and our administration will look at real solutions, not rhetoric.

Elect Charlie Pierce as your Governor and me, Edie Grunwald, Lt. Governor and seniors will be a priority with a seat at the table.

All Alaskans, including seniors, are included in our promise of “Alaskan’s First”. We are committed to: “Results not Rhetoric”. Thank you.

(Ret.) Colonel Edie Grunwald, Candidate for Lt. Governor

Soldotna, AK

Yes, debt collectors can DM you now

The debt collection process just got a little more interesting with the recent changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Among other things, the new changes allow debt collectors to use digital outreach channels like email, texting, and yes, social media.

Does that mean a debt collector might be instant messaging you? Yes, it does. The good thing is that the new rules preserve a consumer’s right to privacy and respect without feeling threatened.

Better Business Bureau® is a trusted resource for you to lean on when verifying the legitimacy of a debt collection agency and how to handle suspicious practices. Many key insights were provided by Todd Christensen, the Education Manager at MoneyFit, a BBB-Accredited debt repayment services organization in Boise, Idaho.

What are the new changes? 

Email, text, and social media private messages can now be used as channels for communication. However, the messenger must disclose their identity as a debt collector and give consumers the option to opt out of receiving them. Unless you’ve given them previous consent to do so, debt collectors can’t knowingly use your work email to contact you.

What are the potential red flags consumers should keep an eye on?

Are you being threatened? Do they mention destroying your credit? Sending law enforcement to your doorstep? If so, that’s a bogus debt collection agency. 

Phishing scams and clickbait messages are a possibility with these new changes. The important lesson is that a legitimate debt collector needs to identify who they are and the agency they represent. If they don’t, then that’s a red flag. You have the right to ask a debt collector to confirm the debt for you or opt out of further contact. Although, if you choose to opt out, pay attention to your mail. You don’t want to be the victim of a default judgment if you don’t appear in court.

What should a consumer do if they receive a debt collection message?

If the debt collector identifies themselves and the agency they represent, the best thing you can do is to immediately ask questions to confirm the debt. Ask for the following information in writing: Who’s it from? What is the amount? What was it for?

The more specific you are, the better – you may find out that you don’t even owe the debt. And, if it’s a brand-new collection, you may still have time to reach out to the original creditor to set up a monthly payment plan that keeps the debt in-house (and not in your credit report).

If a debt is time-barred (no longer collectible, also called “zombie” or “phantom” debt), debt agencies may not pursue or threaten legal action.

What are the parameters a trustworthy debt collector must follow?

Unlike the parameters set for phone calls, no limitation has been set for the frequency of contact over social media.

Over the phone, debt collectors are limited to one call each day per debt (seven total times a week per debt) between the timeframe of 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Voicemails should only include the agency’s name, a response request, and the appropriate contact information. Consumers can set restrictions on a debt collector’s communications channels. For example, a consumer can say “stop calling me” and this will be interpreted as a request to cease telephone communications.

As for the request to cease contact: It’s always best to make this request in writing and send it via certified mail or with a sign-upon-receipt requirement to create a written record. The only responses they are allowed to provide are 1) they have received your notice, or 2) they will stop reaching out directly and instead use the court to take further action.

If a debt collector continues to reach out after you’ve asked them not to, they are in violation of the FDCPA. You can report them to the state regulator, the department of banking, finance, or consumer affairs; or even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If you suspect fraudulent behavior, BBB’s Scam Trackersm is a tool for consumers to track and/or report scams. If your experience is indeed fraudulent, this tool could play a role in protecting future victims. You can also verify an agency’s reputation on BBB.org.

For more tips, visit Trust-bbb.org.

Roseann Freitas

Better Business Bureau

Example: 9075434113