Seniors and retirees are often targeted for fraud. Whether it's their concern over retirement finances, housing, or investing, seniors are vulnerable to fraud, but there is help available to protect their retirement.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has resources
to educate consumers on how to avoid a scam, especially in investments.
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Among its recommendations for retirees are:
- Ask questions and check out the answers.
- Research the company before you invest.
- Know the salesperson.
- Never judge a person's integrity by how that person sounds.
- Be wary of salespersons who prey on fears.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers.
- Never be afraid to complain, among others.
The SEC warns: "Fraudsters rely on the fact that many people simply don’t bother to investigate before they invest. It’s not enough to ask a promoter for more information or for references—fraudsters have no incentive to set you straight. Savvy investors take the time to do their own independent research and talk to friends and family first before investing. Make sure you understand the investment, the risk attached, and the company’s history. And remember, if the product sounds too good to be true, it is!"
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According to USA Today
, approximately $2.6 billion is lost annually to scams targeting retirees and seniors.
And unfortunately, the perpetrators are just as likely to be someone the victims trust. "They are often friends and families and neighbors," senior fraud expert and independent consultant Marion Somers told USA Today.
"There are a lot of bad guys out there," Somers said.
USA Today reports that among the typical scams are:
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- advanced fee (and lottery) scams — requests for fees and taxes for sudden windfalls or for payments for orders the recipient didn't make
- a caller claiming to be a senior's grandchild
- charitable cash fraud where donations are solicited for a fake cause
- computer fraud
- time-share scams
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