Avoiding Scams

By Kim O’Brien, President & CEO, National Association for Fixed Annuities

Unfortunately, older Americans are often targets for financial scams. So what should you and other family members and friends do to avoid being deceived by financial con artists?

  • Run potential purchases and investments by someone you trust. Whether it’s a family member, friend or financial advisor, consider consulting a third-party whom you know and can depend on.
  • Read the fine print. Don’t skip over the details, and ask questions until you fully understand anything you are being asked to sign. If there are things you are not sure about or don’t understand, do not sign any documents until you can find someone else to explain these items to you.
  • Don’t rush into a decision. Valid companies and their representatives shouldn’t pressure you into making any decisions the same-day they are presented to you or overnight. Take your time in making choices that you are comfortable with and understand the various potential outcomes of those decisions.
  • Be selective about personal information. Never send money or provide credit card information and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons. These items are part of your most valuable possessions and should be treated as such.
  • Ask for credentials. When dealing with financial professionals, don’t be afraid to ask about their qualifications. For example, if looking at fixed annuities, your insurance agent is required to have certain credentials, and you should ask to see his or her license. There is strict regulation of insurance companies and the suitability of the annuity sold.  Companies are required to provide full disclosure of all aspects of the annuity products they offer to promote sales that are in the best interest of the consumer.

For additional tips on avoiding fraud, visit the FBI’s website.

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