Tips to help baby boomers, elderly protect retirement investments from fraud

Dec 17, 2018

It can take decades to save the amount of money you need for a happy and secure retirement.

It takes a lot less time — maybe just minutes — for con artists to rob you of that security.

“When you’ve reached retirement, your goal should be to protect what you’ve saved because it needs to last you the rest of your life,” says financial planner Charisse Mackenzie.

“Unfortunately, there are plenty of scams out there designed to separate people from their money — and sometimes specifically older people.”

If you’re a baby boomer who’s recently retired or will soon retire, you want to be aware of such schemes, she says. If your elderly parents are still around, they could be susceptible, too, so you’ll want to help protect them as well.

Mackenzie says there are plenty of things to be wary of, but just a few to be on the lookout for include:

1. Beware of “can’t miss” investments. Perhaps you’ve heard radio commercials or online advertisements with tempting claims about “can’t miss” investments that will give you extraordinary returns. Be skeptical, very skeptical, Mackenzie says.

“You need to keep in mind the old wisdom that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she says. Yet often, retirees let themselves be lured into these investments, Mackenzie says, and soon find that the return in no way matches what was promised, or worse, it could be a Ponzi scheme of some sort and they lose everything.

2. Be sure your financial professional is licensed. It’s always a good idea to get help from a professional when you’re investing your money. But it’s equally important to make sure that person is properly licensed and registered to be doling out the advice they are giving you. The Securities and Exchange Commission points out you can check a financial professional’s background through its database at https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/.

3. Beware of “pump and dump” schemes. Let’s say an email pops into your inbox touting a great stock opportunity, but insisting you need to move quickly or you’ll miss out. You could be the target of a “pump and dump” scheme.

What’s that? According to the SEC, in a “pump and dump,” promoters try to boost the price of a stock with false or misleading statements about the company. Once the stock price has been pumped up, the fraudsters seek to profit by selling their own holdings of the stock, dumping shares into the market. They win, you lose.

“A little healthy skepticism never hurts,” Mackenzie says. “If someone is pressuring you, or insisting that you must act quickly or you’ll miss out on some great investment, alarms should go off.

“You should always take time to weigh financial decisions, especially when they could affect your retirement. You want to protect that money in every way you can.”

About Charisse Mackenzie

Charisse Mackenzie is president of Saturn Wealth (saturnwealth.com). She spent time in the health care industry, developing budgets and running statewide programs, until joining a Scottsdale-based financial firm in 2009.

In 2015, she earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies, which certifies that she has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process.

Mackenzie graduated from Arizona State University in 2003, with a focus on business, psychology and finance.

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