My 82 y/o MIL and FIL asked me to be their financial POA five months ago. I asked my FIL about the Publisher Clearing House charges in the bank account and he explained my MIL buys stuff. I didn't say anything more because I had no clue you could buy 'stuff' from them. My original thought was 'this must be a scam', but I looked into it and Pub. Clearinghouse is basically selling stuff to support their 'giveaways'. Things are overpriced, but she buys anywhere from $20-$90/mo. I could buy the same stuff for her at 1/2 the cost. My FIL originally told me 'well, we won $10 a few years ago'. So I am unclear if they think they are seriously going to win the big money or not. They don't need $1m because in one month they are moving into an Assisted Living facility where their LTC insurance will pay for their care for years and then Benevolence and Medicaid will kick in when their personal funds run out. So they are 'set' - meaning, a big windfall isn't going to change their life. My MIL and FIL are conservative Christians who would never go to a casino or buy lottery tickets so I am not sure they truly get that they are spending money in the hopes of winning money...which is gambling. Since I am the daughter-in-law I am not sure that I should bring up the topic. My husband has 2 brothers and a sister who could discuss this with her. I am looking for a perspective from a non-biased party so thanks in advance! Do we ignore it? Do I ask one of their kids to discuss it? I am now seeing these Pub Clearinghouse envelopes show up in their mail and email with these big promotional ads about how they can win millions - it makes me nauseous because my family shouldn't be wasting money on their gimmicks.

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Seems like if they are using a credit card that is already registered with PCH you can call the credit card company for a new card as they “lost” their old one. This also works for stuff like automatic magazine subscription renewals through a third party company. If they’ve allowed direct access to their checking account as POA I believe you can rescind that too.
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Reply to BarbChicago

Midkid, your post reminded me of a Senate hearing on scammers which I watched several years ago, when both Carl Levin and John Kerry were still Senators.    It was a hearing on scamming people, with someone from PCH and other scammers testifying, somehow making their nasty business sound realistic.

Levin lit into them, calling them out for their manipulation and exploitation of people.    I wondered how people could work for such scamming outfits, then have the audacity to "testify" and lie before a Senate committee. Yet they did.

This may have been after a woman testified that her father, or perhaps mother (I don't remember for sure) had been lured by the possibility of a monetary windfall, and bought their junk.   Her daughter said the bathtub was full of that junk. 

That was so sad, that this poor woman was so duped, and had  a tub full of junk.  

Kshuman, I would tactfully raise the issue with the family.   You're thoughtful and concerned to focus on this potentially devastating issue.   I don't know the best solution, although providing a change of address to a nonexistent place might work, as long as that fictional site is just provided to PCH and no other companies.   However, I've learned that companies check post office registers or some main source to get address changes, and you don't want real mail relocated.

I wonder if the BBB would do anything to terminate their harrassment?

I think what I did was fill their SASE envelopes with junk, labels from cans, and all sorts of garbage mail.  Eventually they stopped harassing me.  
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Reply to GardenArtist

Maybe if you each talked to her, it would begin to sink in? But probably not, so you might as well let it go. That is my small input, because I want to address a PCH issue. My 99 year old mother, who has lived on a shoe string most of her life, is convinced - unshakably CONVINCED - that she would have won a million dollars from PCH if she had subscribed to some magazines they offered. There is also something in her mind about someone who was 'supposed to put her envelope in the mail, didn't on time' and 'if you don't enter someone else will win' ....some such convolution I did not understand. This happened about thirty? years ago. I thought my brothers and I had talked sense into her, but just a couple of years ago she mentioned it and said she still cries about it. So she is still carrying that misconception, that pain. "You may already have won" is a dangerous phrase to dangle in front of susceptible people. I read that my mother's case is not isolated. PCH is a cruel scam on the vulnerable.
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Reply to Alderroost

Mother is ADDICTED to PCH's junk. I also didn't know you could buy junk through them. She thinks that buying something makes it more likely she'll win BIG.

In 60+ years of monthly 'buying' she has won NOTHING. AND, to make it worse, she has KEPT all the envelopes with all the inserts from the start. In the crawlspace of YB's home are 6-7 huge bins packed with these envelopes. Some dating from the 60's---after she dies we are having a huge bonfire. She used to store them in her tiny apartment, but I blew a little gasket b/c she also keeps all her mail and all her newspapers and that was just a fire hazard.

I DID take several catalogs (same thing, she has some that are 14 years old!) and call them, or email them and have them cancelled. Once in a great while she'll 'miss' a catalog and ask me and I just say that they went out of business, It's not a lie, they went out of "her" business. She watches 3 TV channels, why does she need TV Guide?

I am so grateful she cannot figure out online buying.....

In our case, IF she would routinely throw out old catalogs, TV guides, newspapers and junk mail, we wouldn't CARE she gets so much junk. Her place is totally hoarded out with stacks and piles of papers. I don't even go in there anymore.

I think she's the last person in the country who is filling out the forms to order and sending them in!

It's ALL garbage. Stuff she didn't know she needed, until she saw it in a catalog and now she can't live without it.

It's a problem that will never be adequately solved while she's alive. We all just try to sneak out a pile to the recycling if she's not looking. We have to pick our battles.
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Reply to Midkid58

Casually discuss the whole PCH thing and how "I thought you didn't believe in gambling." Perhaps if you put it in their heads that it is indeed gambling, then they may look at it with a new eye.

Also, contact PCH and tell them to remove them from their mailing list.

If they asked you to be their POA, then they clearly trust you. I think you have a right to have the conversation.
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Reply to MJ1929

Maybe no one needs to bring it up to them at all if they're only spending 10 or 20 dollars a month. Just keep an eye on the account so that it doesn't turn into a lot more. If it does, transfer most of their money to a new account that they don't have access too. At their ages, it's okay what they're doing. It's not like they've got a bookie showing up at the AL to collect what they owe him.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver

Does your POA kick in now or when they are incompetent to make informed decisions? If now (I may do it anyway) contact PCH via email and act as them. Ask that emails and mailings stop as of now. Putting their address and email in the body of the email. Request that nothing be sent to that address in anyone elses name.

PCH are the worst ones for selling your info. I bet ur inlaws get a lots of junk mail. I have not gotten anything from them in years and they are sneaky. I was signing up for something. It took me to a page and I didn't realize it wasn't the one I needed. It wasn't until I pushed OK after filling in the info that I found it was PCH. I was so mad at myself. As soon as I received the first email I unsubcribed. So far so good mail wise but I am getting emails from sites I would never have signed up for. Just unsubscibe.

When ur inlaws move, get them a PO Box. This gives you the ability to get rid of any junk mail. If a stamped envelope is included, put all the enclosures back in the envelpe with the paper showing their address on top. Circle it and say "take me off your mailing list". The ones I couldn't do this with I went to their site and emailed saying "take me off your mailing list" and also any name with this mailing address. (My name is spelled many ways)

It will take awhile but the junk mail will slow down. Contests like they have in the Malls, win a car or a trip, will get you on mailing lists.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Yes.... it's an awful scam. Are your husband's siblings aware that you have been asked to be financial PoA (hope it's a durable PoA in the event that they become incapable in the future)? You can explain your findings to them (they are probably totally unaware) and tell them you think it's a scam. Ask if they would like to discuss this issue with your inlaws or if you should and then move ahead on what is decided. Remember, if in laws are still competent and want to continue with the PH deal, they have a complete right to do so.
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Reply to geddyupgo
kshuman Dec 18, 2020
Yes, the family is aware that I am dPOA. I immediately told my husband (their son) about the crazy scam/charges. The other siblings have no idea about the Pub Clearinghouse because I do recognize they have every right to waste money if they want to waste money. My husband isn't very helpful because he has his own issues as he sees his parents decline both physically/mentally. He reacts to them rudely so I try to handle as much of the tough conversations as I can - because I am much calmer than he is. Since they are moving into assisted living in 3 weeks I have been routinely updating family members on all kinds of situations via a group email. Unfortunately, none of them are 'rising to the occasion'...they are all very content letting me handle all the details. I hesitated on telling the family about some of the financial 'mistakes' I see them making because I don't want to appear that I am only interested in sharing the negative. My FIL is a lovely man and I am very blessed to be able to help them.
You are a DIL, so I assume married to one of the sons. So I would discuss it, yes, with their children. If the parents are competent then it really ultimately will end up with their making their own decisions; if they are not competent then one of their children hopefully is already POA and could take care of the charge card charges.
I would discuss honestly with the sons and daughters in family phone conference. Have your evidence with you when you do. Much has been written about Publisher's Clearing House specifically. Research and copy. Start with AARP.
That is the limit of where I would go with this. I sure wish you luck.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Companies like PCH and Readers Digest were scammers long before we'd even heard of phone and internet scammers, often the fine print in promotions and contests gives them permission to sign you up for merchandise unless you opt out, and once they have you you just keep getting sucked in deeper. Nothing she buys there will be needed or of good value, I would just quietly cancel any ongoing subscriptions to merchandise and scoop up the mail so your MIL doesn't see it, it wouldn't hurt to ask to be taken off the mailing list.
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Reply to cwillie

It is a terrible racket. My mother was doing this. Someone in your family should get in touch and tell PCH to remove them permanently or it will never stop. They constantly send useless merchandise. You could make a deal and send one last payment for latest item and then tell them it is over and they will no longer receive any more payments for anything. You or whomever needs to be very emphatic on the phone with them.
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Reply to Riverdale

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