This is not my favorite topic. But it is a necessity today, when it seems that countless companies and individuals are intent on separating us from our money. Some of them will use any means, fair or bad.
I will share a story about a longtime friend (I changed my name) whose kindness and chivalrous nature was used against him when he was vulnerable.
This could be you
Like anyone I’ve ever known, my friend (I’ll call him Bill) was a gentle and polite man. He treats everyone with respect; He is honest and trustworthy. And he is always willing to help someone in need.
A few years ago, his wife passed away, and Bill made opening his mail a daily highlight.
We all know the usual content of the letter. If you split your mail into two stacks, one for the people or organizations sending you money and the other for the people or organizations that want your money, almost everything will go in the second pile.
Now imagine that reality from Bill’s point of view: Correspondence is a regular event, you read it piece by piece and you never want to say no.
Bill’s generosity was his ticket to the mailing list that charities bought and sold increasingly.
Luckily, Bill befriended a woman we’ll call Anita, a nurse he met at the hospital during her last illness. Anita lives near Bill and eventually becomes his caretaker.
One day when Anita stopped by his house, Bill told her that he had just gone to the bank. What she heard prompted her to offer to help with his bills and finances.
Bill always answers the phone and the other day he said yes to someone asking him to transfer money directly from his bank account.
Wired bill $1,600. The next day, the person called back saying the transfer still hasn’t been done. He asks Bill to send back $1,600.
Bill went to the bank and (luckily for him but not for the scammer) the teller knew Bill. Not only did she stop him from making that transaction, but she also helped him report a scam.
Anita soon learned that in just one month, Bill had written 108 checks to 14 charities and political organizations. Small checks, usually $10 to $25 each. But they created a huge financial outflow.
Then she discovered that Bill had somehow signed up for monthly withdrawals from his bank account for things like “internet repair services,” extended warranties on items he bought. we no longer own and unspecified technical support. He is unaware of the “services” he has purchased.
At the bank’s suggestion, Bill closed his account, although he didn’t want to because he had memorized the account number.
Anita suspects that he is being taken advantage of in other ways. Oh, she was never right.
She noticed he was receiving large boxes filled with documents that appeared to be part of a “start your own business at home” plan he had signed up for, thinking it would give him a boost. something to do. She opened one of the boxes and discovered it contained a bill of $325 for “supplies and booklets.”
The damage from that particular scam is much greater, as I discovered when I joined. All told, Bill’s efforts to keep busy and productive have cost him over $100,000.
Fortunately, Bill fully trusted Anita, and soon she was in control of his financial affairs. Among other things, she convinced him to let her review any checks he had written before he mailed them. And she had set up a laptop in a way that made it easy for them to keep track of his bank accounts.
Unfortunately, many other seniors don’t have someone like Anita to help them.
With a friend like this, do you need an enemy?
Sometimes the “helper” turns out to be a scoundrel.
I know a retired couple who turned to the choir director at their church for investment advice. When they inherited $50,000 – a huge amount for them – they passed on to this “friend”.
The choir director is not a fiduciary advisor, and he has become very adept at earning the trust of the parishioners. (You can probably feel this happening.)
From an objective point of view, this couple has a rather low level of risk tolerance; they cannot afford to lose this money.
However, upon learning of the inheritance, the choir director convinced the couple to invest in limited partnerships, thus earning themselves a hefty sales commission.
A limited partner has been invested in a coal mining venture. Another is sponsoring a palm grove in South America.
Had I not intervened, the couple would have most likely lost all their money while the choir director kept his commission. But after we threatened legal action against the choir director and the company he worked for, the couple recovered all of their money.
Another story comes from a friend who works for a moving and storage company.
An elderly man lives in a hotel in downtown Seattle, with daily visits from a paid caregiver, occasionally ordering things online. He received packages that, with the blessing of the hotel, were delivered straight to his room.
One day, a UPS driver realized she was delivering six to eight packages a day to this man, and she sensed something was wrong. It didn’t take long for the driver to determine that most of the items delivered were what the carer had ordered for her, charging them of course to the man’s credit card.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: some new credit cards – and a new carer.
There are countless other ways that elders fall victim to those who want their money, any way they can get it. COVID-19 scam. Bank fraud. Phone scam. IRS scam. Charity scam. Investment scam. Pyramid Project.
The US government created a great online resource to help identify these and more, and to protect yourself or someone you care about.
If you use email, you are a target. You may receive a message asking you to confirm “account information” including your phone number and shipping address. There could be a “problem with your bank account” – even a bank where you don’t have an account.
What to do: Probably the #1 all-in-one suggestion I have is to simply slow down. No trade you can make is so rushed that it can’t wait for you to think about it or get a second opinion from someone who has earned your trust.
Self-taught at government website. Do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call.
I hate having to give blanket advice to doubt. But since so many people have learned the hard way, that can be very good advice. In fact, that advice could save you more dollars than you care about.
Richard Buck contributed to this article.
Paul Merriman and Richard Buck are the authors of We are talking to millions of people! 12 simple ways to speed up your retirement.
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-quick-and-easy-way-to-lose-your-life-savings-11638321447?rss=1&siteid=rss Quick and easy way to lose your life savings