On guard against fraud
Fraud is a reality that we must constantly guard ourselves against. There are those who can be considered trusted advisors and there are those who will always be unscrupulous. We know and understand that. Yet, by nature, many of us want to trust and open up to the friendly and seemingly knowledgeable folks we meet. It’s always important to exercise a reasonable amount of caution.
Seniors can be particularly susceptible to abuse. Many want to trust those that seem willing to provide assistance, and the proliferation of complex products can leave us open to fraud by those exploiting that complexity.
I have seen or heard too many heart-wrenching stories of outright fraud, or financial products that were sold to an individual that simply didn’t make sense, except for the dishonest person peddling their wares.
Never hesitate to reach out to us if you ever have any questions about our recommendations or why we believe they are best for your particular situation. Or for that matter, call us if you’ve come across something else and just don’t think you know enough about the product to ask the right questions. We are here to assist you in any way that we can.
10 ways to beef up your defensive line
Reviewed by the Federal Citizen Information Center and the U.S. General Services Administration, the Certified Financial Planner Board has put together this list of steps, which you can implement immediately to alert you to potential fraud red flags and help protect you.
1.Look beyond the designations on a business card.
There are over 170 known designations and certifications used by financial professionals. Some require rigorous testing. Others are little more than marketing tools, with no real education needed—much less an exam.
2. If you don’t understand what is being said, don’t buy it.
This one is pretty simple, but we can still fall victim to promises that are really too good to be true. I strive to keep an open line of communications with you. Always feel free to pick up the phone and call me if you come across something that sounds good on the surface but leaves you with an uneasy feeling.
3. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
You may get a tasty meal, but be wary of the pressure to make an immediate buying decision. Annuity marketers are known for sending invites for a nice dinner at a steakhouse and then putting the hard sell on for their very expensive product. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping on it or getting a second opinion if it is the right solution for you then waiting a few days to think it over is not going to hurt.
4. Just because a so-called expert recommends it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
I have repeatedly emphasized that your specific situation and circumstances dictate the best course. Think about it–an aggressive stock fund might be just what’s needed for a 28-year-old who is saving for retirement. That same fund might not work for someone who is 90 years old and needs income.
5. It’s a tried and true axiom. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not legitimate or safe.
It’s human nature to want to find the magic bullet that easily solves a problem. But be very wary of promises that seem too good to be true.
6. Don’t confuse familiarity with trust.
We know plenty of good people in our community, but please do your homework and check anyone out before entrusting your finances to them.
7. The final sign-off should always be yours.
Don’t leave spaces in account applications or contracts before signing them. As a follow on read the contracts to understand exactly what you are signing. It may take a little time but being well informed will make you a better client and investor.
8. Make sure the money others are making isn’t yours.
We’ve all heard of the classic Ponzi scheme. Be very careful that you don’t throw your hard-earned money into a scam.
9. Get the full story.
What is the cost of the investment? Who will benefit from your decision? Is it you or the person making the recommendation?
10. You have rights as a homeowner. Know them.
Know your rights as a homeowner. If you are considering tapping equity via a reverse mortgage, let’s talk and discuss the benefits and any possible pitfalls.
Being a victim of investment fraud can be very difficult and trying. In many cases it completely alters the victims financial lives. These crimes and frauds are all too common today—please take these steps to heart and protect yourself.