Sunday, January 24, 2016

Scare Tactics and Scam Alerts

Swindles against seniors have become so commonplace that all you think you can do is shake your head and grieve for the people who have lost their money. Almost every day, I receive an email or a phone call from someone telling me that I have won something, sometimes a contest, sometimes a lottery, sometimes a free trip or a free holiday. 

All of these wins sound plausible, but I do not enter contests online or enter draws where I do not know the organization. Therefore, I know these wins are too good to be true and are frauds. Frauds against seniors are growing and are a big concern, not only to the law enforcement agencies, but also to the friends and relatives of the seniors who are taken advantage of by the con artists.

There are a number of ways that the cons take advantage, but the key is to be able to recognize a fraud if presented with one. So not only are we offered fake prizes, we are also offered ways to make more money faster, easier and with no risk. The problem is that these type of frauds can take away all of your savings. So do we, as pensioners know how to protect ourselves from investment fraud. Sadly the answer is no. More than a third of workers on the brink of retirement fear they could be tricked into a pensions frauds, research showed today. Research Now surveyed 2,000 adults aged 55 or older online between April 20 and 22.

Another 2010 survey funded by Blandin’s organization (pdf file) found that 7.3 million older Americans — one in five of those over age 65 — had been ripped off. The survey also revealed that many adult children said they were concerned about their elderly parents’ ability to handle their finances.
Half of those elderly workers polled were confident that they would be able to identify a legitimate pension’s investment and 37 per cent feared they would struggle to spot a scam.

In total, a third of older people who have not yet retired have been contacted about 'potentially dodgy' pension products,
Among the 33 per cent who reported potentially fraudulent pension-related offers, 21 per cent said they had been contacted about investment opportunities and 16 per cent were offered a free pension review.

 Here are some cons that I as far as I know is just limited to the US but it is a scary one. Con artists have found a new way to defraud people into handing over their money. In 2014, Americans 50-plus lost nearly $11 million from intimidation and extortion schemes. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, scammers are now using fear and intimidation towards seniors by threatening with violence, a lawsuit or arrest over supposed missed loan payments. 

Victims are told they need to pay to avoid a bogus court summons or even that a virus will ruin your computer unless you pay. Victims can become embarrassed or frightened to speak up or report being scammed when they are told to keep mum “or else.” Keep reading for some frauds to be on the outlook.

The pay up or die scheme. - This may seem like a joke but sadly, it is not. In 2012, nearly $2 million from approximately 1,354 people was extorted in a “hit-man” type scheme. Senior are being told a contract has been placed on their life but avoidable with a payoff. The schemers will use Facebook or other online sites to gain financial information about you and your family to make threats seem real so remember to limit what you post online.

The impostors at the door. - Scammers are now knocking on doors to seek and sometimes demand your personal data or immediate payment of a supposed fine. Imposters pose as employees from Social Security, Medicare, the police, or local court stating they are in need of this information. It is important to remember that these agencies would not harass people this way, demand information they already have, or send people out to your door.

Shutoff Shakedown. - As this brutal winter is ending be prepared for bogus threats of overdue balances and threats to shut off your services for unpaid bills. It is extremely easy for scammers to use special software programs that falsely display the name and phone number of your utility company on your caller ID and with a new threat of sending someone to your home to collect funds. However, as you know most utility companies will send at least one, if not several, past due notifications before shutting you off and will never send an employee out.

Some tips and ideas for dealing swindlers:
Remember don’t be intimidated by scare tactics – don’t answer your door to anyone you do not know, always follow up with your utility company on your own, and always report any suspicious or threatening behavior to your local law enforcement.

If you are approached by a company you are unsure about should do some research into the firm and be careful not to rush into any decisions.

Phrases like 'one-off investment opportunities', 'free pension review', 'legal loopholes', 'cash bonus', and 'government endorsement' should be treated with caution.

Equally, pension-holders should be wary if they are approached over the phone, via text messages or in person at the front door, and should never agree to transfer money abroad.

Government and regulators should do more to warn people about these types of tricks and do all they can to stamp out the sharks behind them.

For our US friends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m Eastern time, every Thursday, a number of organizations have come together to open three telephone lines in a nationwide effort to prevent seniors from becoming victims of financial fraud. The Prevent Elder Financial Abuse Call-In program, manned by certified financial planners, heath-care professionals and adult protective services professionals, will be giving out advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and any senior you might know against fraud.

“I’m hoping that we will raise the level of understanding about how critical this problem is and how it will grow as the population ages,” said Don Blandin, president and chief executive of the Investor Protection Trust, which is sponsoring the call-in campaign. “We have to find ways to protect our seniors against investment swindles and financial abuse.”

The hotlines are intended to help not just seniors but also adult children of the elderly and others who know or work with the elderly. The organizations participating include the National Adult Protective Services Association

the Financial Planning Association

the Investor Protection Institute and 

the Baylor College of Medicine.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance is also a partner. The toll-free hotlines will address questions and offer advice in the following areas:
  • If you have general finance questions, call 888-227-1776. You’ll be put in touch with an expert from the Financial Planning Association. In particular, the FPA professionals can help adult children figure out how to initiate a conversation with their parents about money. The holiday season is also a time when authorities see an increase in financial exploitation.  It is when families, friends and neighbors get together, increasing the chance that some unscrupulous person will have access to the financial holdings of a senior parent, friend or relative.
  • If you have medical questions, call 888-303-0430. Callers can get advice from health-care professionals about medical issues such as mild cognitive impairment, which can affect an older person’s ability to make wise and safe financial decisions. The condition may cause people to become confused or less risk-averse, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation. The health-care professionals can help identify the health-related red flags that make someone more vulnerable to financial abuse, and they will be able to suggest referrals for medical screening.
  • If you have questions about financial abuse or about how to recognize that something might be amiss, call 888-303-3297. You will speak to an adult protective service professional. You can get information on what steps to take if you suspect that a loved one is being financially abused or exploited. For every case of financial abuse that is reported, four or five are not, because in many cases they involve family, Blandin said. “What 86-year-old mother wants to file a report on her son?”
Even before the telephone lines open, people have been calling for help, Blandin said. One call came from an elderly woman concerned that a young woman living with her had pushed the caller to give her control over her retirement money. The state securities regulator where the woman lives has gotten involved.

If you want more information about the call-in program, go to

This information was provided by the following:
Margot G. Birke, Esq. Elder Law Solutions, Newburyport, MA Email - Margot, Website - Elder Law

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