Each year, millions of senior citizens are conned out of a total of approximately $2.6 billion through various affinity fraud schemes, Ponzi schemes, and investment scams. In honor of last week’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I’ve put together a new list of tips on how seniors can protect their hard-earned money and keep from becoming just another elder financial fraud statistic:
Unsolicited sales pitches are significantly more likely to lead to investment fraud than offers you find yourself. My advice? Take your name off as many solicitation lists as possible, and ignore any unsolicited investment opportunity you come across. If you feel you absolutely must consider a particular offer, then be sure you investigate both the opportunity and the promoter thoroughly. You should also get a third opinion from a qualified advisor or financial professional whom you trust.
Con artists love dangling enticing offers in front of unsuspecting investors, and then telling them they have to “act now” if they want to take advantage of this “limited time offer.” Don’t be fooled. Always "sleep on it," and take the time to do some research.
Seniors are a con artist’s prime target group because they don’t have decades to build up wealth or let an investment grow. Fraudsters know that the weak economy and volatile stock market of the last five years have left many seniors looking for new and better ways to make money now. Unfortunately, in the investment world, the higher the potential for reward, the higher the risk. No matter how good it sounds, stay clear of exaggerated claims; you simply can’t afford the loss.
Additionally, seniors should be extra vigilant against investment fraud schemes and investment scams that involve:
• Equity-indexed annuities; • Variable annuities; • Gold or other precious metals; • “Free-lunch seminars”; • Promissory notes; • Energy investments; and • Life settlement contracts.
Younger adults and caregivers who want to help protect their parents and grandparents from falling prey to con artists should click here for more tips on how to help elders avoid investment fraud. For help taking your name off of a solicitation list, visit:
The National Do Not Call Registry, Direct Marketing Association for Direct Mail: DMA Choice, and Opt-in / Opt-out for credit and insurance offers.