You worked all your life, saved some money, retired and thought you could live off the interest on those savings. With current one-year certificate of deposit interest rates at 1 percent or less, a $10,000 CD will only earn $100 in interest for the year. A $100 doesn’t go very far anymore. What is a person to do? The first guiding principle should be to protect your initial capital from fraud. With seniors looking for alternatives to those low interest rates, it creates fertile ground for scam artists. Odd as it may sound, seniors who are the most financially sophisticated are more likely to fall victim to investment fraud than the less savvy, according to the National Association of Security Dealers. The study found “investment fraud victims are people who have a lot of confidence in their ability to make investments. A con artist’s senses that and then tailors his pitch so that the victim feels in charge. The victim’s knowledge essentially works against him.
Alex Kellner writing for AARP lists six tricks con artists use to lure victims into investment scams. He suggests you should watch out for those who:
• Promise a sure profit or higher rates than the current market offers.
• Tell you that you’ll lose everything you’ve already invested if you stop now.
• Pretend to be an expert, claiming they have seen everything.
• Act like a peer, claiming they also are heavily invested in the same venture.
• Make the opportunity appear limited to increase its perceived value.
• Want you to rush your decision. Saying you must act now.
A low rate of return is one thing, but to lose your entire investment is much worse. Avoid telephone and mail solicitations. To be safe, make sure you are working with an investment counselor who is licensed in your state. The trust officer at your local bank can be a good source of information and advice.
Contact Seniors vs. Crime at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office for assistance with questions about fraud and scams.
Alan Green is the director of Seniors vs. Crime, which operates in conjunction with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.