Tips To Help Your Elders Get Ready for Digital TV Switch

  • This isn't just about elders, of course. However, it's more likely that older people are still using an antenna for their TV reception, than younger people into dish and cable.


    I'm writing this to give readers information, but I'm most concerned about elders getting scammed. Older people are still more vulnerable to giving out private information over the phone or even in a store, thinking that this nice young woman who is asking must need it in order to help them.


    So, to help your elder, please be aware by reading the tips, below, and then go to the government site, at, for more information.

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    At midnight of February 17, 2009, U.S. television will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. People with cable or satellite TV access shouldn't even notice a hiccup. However, those with a TV antenna will no longer get reception, unless they have a converter box.


    You can order coupons at the government site to offset the price of the box. These coupons are worth $40 on eligible converter boxes. However, they must be used within 90 days of purchase. They will no longer be taken after that time, and you won't be able to order a replacement.


    It is important to know that no private information is needed. No one should be calling Grandma to scare her into buying something so she can continue to watch "Wheel of Fortune," and telling her they need her Social Security number.


    Grandma may need your help however. Here are some highlights from the site, but please go to to get the whole scoop. Then get Grandma (or yourself) set up before February, and all will be well.

    1. The government coupons are only good for 90 days after they are mailed out, so
    don't order them until you are ready to buy.


    2. Be careful of free converter box offers. You may have to pay shipping or buy a warranty. According to, "The companies that are making these offers are not certified by the government, and their converter boxes are not eligible for the coupon program."


    3. Every household can get two coupons, each worth $40, to help defray the cost of the converter boxes, most of which will run between $50 and $70. The coupons can be ordered from the site or by calling the Coupon Program toll-free 24-hour automated system 888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).

    4. It is illegal to sell the coupons, but you can give them away.  

    5. Two coupons are offered in case you have two TV sets.

    6. All coupon-eligible converter boxes must be able to receive digital signals over the air and convert them to analog signals that your analog television can display, however some offer other features.  
    7. Never pay for a coupon for a converter box. The coupons are free.
    8. Don't give out a Social Security number or sensitive financial information to order
    or redeem your coupon.

    9. If you return a converter box you bought using a coupon, you can't get the value of the coupon back.

    10. Before leaving the store with the converter you choose, check to make sure installation instructions are in the box. You can find general installation instructions at


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    Again, please go to the site for much more information. The site is user friendly and accurate. Even if you are shrugging your shoulders now, thinking "This doesn't apply to me or my mom or grandma, think hard. Do you know an elder who isn't even aware of this? Or someone who could be scammed?


    If so, please try to help them through this change which may seem very confusing to someone not in the know. It's really quite simple with the right information. And an elder you know may need a little help hooking it up. This is your chance to be a good neighbor.


    For more information about Carol go to or

Published On: September 29, 2008