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We profile tech companies that work on one of the five existential challenges. This week, we focused on True Link Financial and wealth inequality. (As always, they didn't pay us for coverage.) Subscribe if you haven't already!

Imagine your grandfather has recently been diagnosed with dementia. He lives alone, and manages well enough, but his memory is going. On a given day, he gets a call from a person selling magazines. He's happy to chat — he doesn't get many calls anymore — and gladly buys a subscription to the magazine. The whole transaction seems innocuous enough until the salesperson calls back in a few days. Again, Grandpa's happy to chat — he doesn't get many calls anymore — and gladly buys another subscription for this magazine. He's forgotten that he's already subscribed.

The salesperson hasn't. They've identified Grandpa as an easy target for this repeat-sales scheme, one of many used in financial elder abuse. And these schemes, somewhat unsurprisingly, affect those who are already the most affected by inequality:

1 in 9


seniors have been abused in the last year

2x


as likely for victims to be women

2.7x


as likely for victims to be black

"Whole companies exist to take money from the elderly; fake charities, publications, medical fraud." Isaac Elias, now VP of Engineering at True Link Financial, told us when we asked him about the space. True Link is a company that exists to protect against these schemes, helping older adults and other vulnerable populations.

There are whole sales forces that call aging adults who just want someone to talk to, and they talk just long enough to take their credit card.

— Isaac Elias, VP of Engineering, True Link

Today, he speaks about it with a bite in his voice, but before he joined True Link, it was invisible to him — and for good reason. In 2013, Isaac had gone through General Assembly, and was diving into ad tech. "I was deeply in debt and had dependents. I remember thinking 'I gotta get an income now.'" His options were limited. "People with non-traditional backgrounds, like me, think I gotta get my foot in the door, I can't be super choosy.'" So he took the job that came along, and worked hard until he felt empowered enough to be more selective. He wanted more meaning in his work and finally felt he had enough leverage to get it.

In True Link he found an opportunity to solve a real problem, one he could explain simply. In order to protect their users' finances, True Link offers a pre-paid Visa card that can be customized via an online dashboard. Online purchases or predatory telemarketers can be blocked, merchants can be restricted and daily limits can be set by the card's administrator to help prevent risky purchases. So if your Grandpa had been using True Link, you would have gotten a chance to help him avoid compromising his card. Isaac finds pride in that unambiguous good — and you can too.
 


Here are a few of True Link's open roles as of Nov 04, 2019:

Product Counsel

Legal | Remote


UX Designer

Product | San Francisco
 

Director of Customer Support

Business | San Francisco
 
(and a lot more!)

True Link has been so effective, that their impact reports are cited by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They're experts. And, always wanting to grow, they've started to expand their coverage to other vulnerable groups. In 2016, they acquired a company called Next Step to kickstart their move into addiction recovery — a massive problem, with serious financial implications.
 

22M


Americans are recovering from substance addiction

144


people are incarcerated for possession every hour

$30k


per month average cost of rehab

Given that True Link has managed to so strongly improve the lives of their elderly customers, they're well positioned to bring the same energy and expertise to the addiction recovery process, special needs trusts disbursement, and everywhere else vulnerable people are subject to financial abuse. When you're solving real problems, there's no shortage of challenges to undertake.

If you want to help reduce wealth inequality, apply for a job or refer a friend!

If you're not already subscribed, click here. If you're already a subscriber, please consider forwarding to spread the word!

Project Mobilize is written and curated by Patrick Perini and Alec Davis, with special thanks to Darcie Lamond.


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