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Money Smart for Older Adults
Protecting what’s yours. It’s your money. Ask questions.
It’s hard to ask about financial planning or products.
- Don’t be intimidated.
- If you want to work with a financial adviser, interview a few before choosing one.
- Before you sign anything or give personal or financial information about yourself to an adviser, ask questions: Are you licensed? How do you get paid? Are you working in my best interest?
- If your friends or family give you advice or information, it’s up to you to question them: Where did you get the information from? Who gets paid what? Are you making any money on this?
It’s your information. Protect it.
Never give out personal information, such as account numbers, over the phone or online unless you know the company and initiated the call. Telephone and online scams are common and constantly changing, so you have to be proactive and protect yourself. It’s hard to believe it’s a scam when you get a call from someone far away who needs help. But it usually is.
It’s your retirement savings. Plan ahead.
We are living longer, so we have to be smarter about our finances as we retire.
- Before retiring, find out how your pension plan (or your spouse’s) works. Should you take it in regular payments or as a lump sum? Your choices will affect how long it lasts and whether your spouse gets survivor’s benefits.
- Learn the rules for social security benefits. How much will you get, and what tax will you pay? Factors including the age you retire, your other income sources, and a spouse’s death, can change the answers to these questions.
It’s your house. Keep it.
By some estimates, older Americans hold $3.3 trillion in home equity. Your home may be the most valuable asset you have. Unfortunately, many people are thinking up scams to take that away from you.
- Before you do anything that would put your home on the line, make sure you understand what you are doing and can explain it to a friend using your words.
- Be careful when considering a reverse mortgage. There are many factors to consider – your age, your financial needs and goals, and how long you expect to stay in the house. Even if it makes sense for you to take out the loan, learn about all the fees and compare interest rates before you sign anything.
It’s your money. You can say no.
Scammers target polite people because they have a harder time saying no.
- If you feel pressured to make a decision, chances are you are being pressured.
- It may be hard, especially if it is a friend or relative, but just saying “No, I am not interested,” may save you from being scammed.
- You don’t have to stay on the line if you feel uncomfortable. Tell them you’re going to hang up, and then DO IT.
-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
For more information: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201306_cfpb_msoa-participant-guide.pdf
Protect Yourself From Identity Theft, Email Fraud & “Phishing” Scams
At Security Savings Bank, the security of your accounts and personal information is our top priority. We would like to warn our customers about “phishing” (pronounced FISHING) scams that use fraudulent e-mails, pop-up advertisements and phony web sites that attempt to trick people into providing confidential personal information.
Typically, with these phishing scams, you will receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and may do business with, such as your financial institution. The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The e-mail will encourage you to click on a link to go to the institution’s website.
In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will appear for the purpose of collecting your financial information. You may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes such as your social security number, your account number, your password, etc.
For more information and tips regarding “Phishing” and online safety, visit http://www.onguardonline.gov/
How to protect yourself:
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request.
- If you are unsure whether a contact claiming to be from Security Savings Bank is legitimate, contact your local bank office.
- Delete any e-mail without opening it if you don’t recognize the sender.
- Only provide your personal information if you initiated the sign on process to your internet banking account with Security Savings Bank.
- Use virus protection software and keep it up-to-date.
- Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct.
- Report lost or stolen checks or debit cards immediately.
- Notify us of suspicious phone calls or e-mails.
- Guard your Debit Card and PIN numbers. Do not give your card or card number to anyone you don’t know, or to a merchant you do not trust. And never give your to PIN anyone!
- Use a paper shredder to destroy any unwanted solicitations or bank statements before disposing of them.
- Call about any questionable charge on your statement.
- Contact the major credit reporting agencies. You can review your credit report and make certain the information contained in it is correct by contacting the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax- 1-800-685-1111 www.equifax.com/fcra
- Experian- 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com/
- TransUnion- 1-800-888-4213 www.transunion.com/
- Receive a free annual credit report. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to obtain a free credit report, once a year, from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
Protect Yourself From Check Fraud
An ongoing scam is swindling consumers: counterfeit checks that seem legitimate to both bank employees and consumers, but leaves unsuspecting consumers footing the bill. The Federal Trade Commission has a website http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0159-fake-checks which explains common angles used in these scams, the responsibilities of banks and consumers when it comes to counterfeit checks, and advice on how to avoid these increasingly common traps.
While the angles used by scam artists may vary, the basics of the counterfeit check scheme remain the same. The consumer receives a generous check with an explanation that they’ve just won an award, a prize, a lottery or some other windfall. The consumer is instructed to deposit the check and wire a portion back to pay fees, taxes, or the like. The consumer deposits the check, the bank credits the funds to the consumer’s account, and the consumer wires the money to the sender. Sometime later, both the bank and the consumer learn the check was bogus. Unfortunately, the consumer is out of luck: the money that was wired can’t be retrieved and, by law, the consumer is responsible for the deposited check – even though they didn’t know it was fake.
The FTC advises consumers not to rely on funds from checks unless they know and trust the person who gave them the check or, better yet, until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Other advice includes:
- Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.
- Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
- Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
- If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
- If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
- If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.
- Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
For more information and tips regarding Check Fraud, visit www.fakechecks.org