Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Financial advice and scam warnings available for seniors


February 21, 2019

People with financial problems have a place to turn to for help. Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling can help people take control of their debts.

That’s the message that Sarah Garramone and Ashley Hagelin gave to the members of Carlton County TRIAD on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Wright.

“We can help you go through your credit report and correct it,” said Hagelin. “Eighty percent of credit reports have errors on them. And you can freeze your credit report in Minnesota to keep new activity from starting and unfreeze it if you want to.”

“Everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year,” added Sheriff Kelly Lake. “Find it on See if what is on the credit report is actually your debt. You will be able to see if there is financial abuse.”

“LSS also offers financial advice, such as about reverse mortgages,” Hagelin added. “Or if you get something in the mail that looks official and you want to find out if it is legitimate, give us a call.”

Senior citizens are vulnerable to the Grandparent Scam. Someone calls the senior citizen and tells them that they are their grandchild or are calling about their grandchild who needs money to get themselves out of a bad situation.

“Some grandparents will send the money, others will tell the supposed grandchild that they shouldn’t have gotten into trouble in the first place,” Hagelin explained. “That’s a scam. Other people are taken advantage of on a dating website.

“Give one of our counselors a call and tell them when something doesn’t sound right. Encourage others to do that too. Or you can call for someone else.”

Reverse mortgages are something that people are told is a way to cover debt.

“I am a reverse mortgage counselor,” said Hagelin. “It is a requirement that you talk to a financial counselor and do a benefits checkup. I can help you with that.”

People can be approached about debt settlement programs but later may have trouble making the payments.

“The Social Security income of senior citizens is exempt from garnishment, they cannot be sued if they can’t make the payments,” Hagelin explained.

She also explained that there are scams where a person is told that they have won something but they have to send money for the taxes or some other fees in order to collect it.

“You do not have to send money if you have actually won,” said Hagelin.

Lutheran Social Services has an office in Duluth in the Ordean Building. Call LSS at 888-577-2227 for more information or to talk to a financial counselor, or visit

To find out information about other services, such as senior respite care, call 211 for information. A representative from United Way answers and can direct the caller to their services.

The Senior Linkage Line is another good resource that people can call for help with senior citizens and their families. Call 800-333-2433.


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