With more and more baby boomers retiring and more and more middle class hardworking folks trying to plan for retirement, there are more investments into areas other than the traditional real estate, stocks and bonds. Many times investors will be asked to loan money to start-up businesses or to be “silent partners” in businesses. The Law Offices of Nicholas Taldone can assist in resolving soured business relationships.
Investment disputes include far more than just issues involving stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Investment disputes also include issues concerning:
- Fixed and variable annuities
- Variable Universal Life Insurance
- Limited Partnerships
- Promissory Notes
- Active Investments including franchises. In this economy, many entrepreneurs have purchased franchises and other businesses which are not always as promised.
Elder Fraud is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Often the perpetrator of the fraud is long gone and has moved onto other types of fraud before anyone even knows they have been defrauded. The goal is to not be defrauded in the first place.
One of the greatest problems is that people are too polite to just hang up the phone when called by the salesperson. The best rule of thumb is to just hang up.
Another problem is that there is no way to differentiate those “bad apples” engaging in fraud from the vast majority of hard-working honest folks. One way is to always check references before you employ anyone, especially a financial advisor, with friends, family, the state licensing board and do an internet search. Finally, the old adage that “if it’s too good to be true” applies!
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) lists the following most prevalent scams for 2018:
Has this been happening to you? The phone rings, you pick it up, say “hello,” but there’s no one on the other line. It’s a new type of robocall — an automated computer system making tens of thousands of calls to “build a list of humans to target for theft,” according to the Financial Fraud Research Center. It’s the first step in opening you up to many of the phone-based scams discussed in this article.
Your Plan: If you haven’t already done so, ask your phone company to put caller ID on your landline. Then simply screen your calls, and don’t pick up if the number is unfamiliar.
This con is still going strong. “It’s our number one reported fraud right now,” says Amy Nofziger with AARP Foundation and Fraud Watch Network, “and I think it’ll get more sophisticated.” Here’s how it works: Someone claiming to be from the IRS either phones or leaves a voice message saying you owe back taxes and threatening that, unless funds are wired immediately, legal action will be taken or you’ll be arrested. (Or they may say you have a refund waiting but need to verify personal info before sending.)
Your Plan: Do not return a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The real IRS opens communications with a taxpayer only via the U.S. Postal Service. If you’re ever in doubt about an IRS matter, call the agency directly at 800-829-1040. Sometimes for kicks Nofziger actually calls the IRS impostors back. “They usually pick up on the first ring,” she says. “The IRS doesn’t usually have the staffing capacity to pick up on the first ring, but the scammers do.”
Cancer Charity Rip-Off
The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on fake charities soliciting contributions. At the other end of the cancer-scam spectrum, last August a reigning beauty queen (Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International) was arrested after allegedly claiming she had cancer and swindling tens of thousands of dollars from sympathetic supporters. She even shaved her head and staged “Bingo for Brandi” fundraisers, authorities say.
Your Plan Before contributing to any charity, check out its rating on charitynavigator.org. Instead of giving cash to door-to-door solicitors or your credit card number to callers, ask for more information about the charity (brochures, websites) so you can investigate the cause first. Also be wary of popular online giving sites such as gofundme.com. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from this or any scam is to be skeptical, says Frank W. Abagnale, a former con artist who became a long time FBI consultant on scams and is now AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Ambassador. Ask questions. Trust your gut.
Traditionally, these scams have involved con artists stealing the hearts of unsuspecting singles (many of them seniors) and then using various ploys to steal money. But now scammers are targeting faith-based sites like BigChurch, ChristianMingle, JDate and others.
Your Plan Before getting involved with anyone online, use Google or Spokeo.com to research the person, and even view his or her address on Google Maps. Finding “no results” is a red flag. Do a Google Image search for a profile picture. Keep in mind that people who are legitimately looking for love won’t ask for money (unless they’re your kids).
Medical Identity Theft
When most people hear identity theft, they think of someone stealing their credit card info and buying a big-screen. But you can’t legally be held liable for fraudulent purchases like that. It’s different, however, with medical identity theft.
Your Plan Never surrender Social Security, Medicare or health insurance numbers to anyone you don’t know and trust. Be particularly wary of free health checks offered at shopping malls, fitness clubs and retirement homes (so-called rolling labs). If they ask to photocopy your cards or ask you to sign a blank insurance claim form, don’t do it,
In September, news broke that Apple’s normally secure app store had been compromised. Some developers had evidently used a fake version of Xcode (hence dubbed Xcode Ghost) to build their apps, not knowing it contained malware designed to steal passwords and do other devious things.
Your Plan Apple says it has purged its store of these malicious apps. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen again. Geek Squad’s Woodworth recommends always reading an app’s reviews before downloading and choosing proven, popular ones. Be aware, too, that you can limit an app’s access to your location by adjusting your device’s privacy settings, thus reducing the chance of being spied on.
At no time are we more vulnerable than after the loss of a loved one, and con artists know that. A man was arrested last August for allegedly bilking an 89-year-old Wisconsin widow out of nearly $4,500. Police say he scanned obituaries for prey, then pretended to be a bank official to trick them out of money. He may have been working the scam across the country for decades.
Your Plan Ask a trusted family member to temporarily handle your financial responsibilities while you are grieving. Have that person follow up on any suspicious phone calls or emails. And be aware that while you are grieving, you may be more vulnerable to fraud tactics that play on your emotions.
Insurance agents receive commissions of between 8 and 10 % on certain insurance products which motivates some bad apples to employ dishonest sales tactics.
YOUR PLAN: Be aware of insurance agents who telephone you and tell you to cancel your old policies and purchase new ones. Insurance agents receive more of their commissions in the first year and less in subsequent years. Also be aware of any insurance agent who provides forms that are NOT FILLED OUT for you to sign.
Pyramid and Multi-Level Marketing
Pyramid and multi-level marketing is a type of business in which one must become a distributor in order to sell the products. Stay away from pyramid and multi-level marketing schemes in which your primary source of income would be convincing other people to become distributors under you.
YOUR PLAN: Stay away from from business that require that you buy a lot of inventory in order to become a distributor