Pickpocket Alert! Financial Defense Tips

By Patricia Danflous

Who do you trust with your money?  Your spouse?  Son?  Daughter?  Neighbor who retired last year?  The guy who keeps sending you postcards with investment promises and lunch invitations?  It seems like everybody has a recommendation, doesnít it?

It is a challenge to enjoy lifeís later years and maintain a healthy cushion for cruises, a new car or roof repairs.  Unfortunately, the effects of aging may increase your vulnerability to financial scams or the need to rely on outsiders.

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards, Inc., advises seniors to be on the defensive when it comes to investments, retirement programs, savings certificates and banking.  If you are considering working with a financial planner ñ and it is never too late to do so and ask if he or she is providing advice under the ìfiduciary standard of care. A CFP certified adheres to professional standards and a code of ethics.

Keep these suggestions in mind:

• If you don’t understand what is recommended, don’t buy it.

• Never buy anything or provide personal information over the phone.  You don’t have to be polite – just hang up.

• If you meet with a financial professional, meet in his or her office, not your home.

• If it sounds too good to be true, you may be heading for trouble.

• Enjoy that free lunch, but remember the invitation comes with a sales pitch.

• Don’t hesitate to ask how much an investment will cost you.  Find out about commissions, transaction feels and internal expenses that will come out of your pocket.

• Consider a reverse mortgage carefully and make sure you work with a lender approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  Never sign over your property deed as part of the reverse mortgage process.