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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Future - May 2010
 

Take Action Against Consumer Fraud
Know What You Want, What to Look For and Where to Go for Help

Are you putting off decisions about life insurance, annuities, securities or other investments because you are confused about all your choices?Scam artists are experts at establishing rapport and have made a science of gaining your trust to separate you from your money. They look and sound good, and their offers appear even better. They offer to do all of the "hard work" for you in making decisions. They earn your trust, then use that sense of trust against you when you start to ask questions. The con artist's goal is to increase his or her own profits, not yours.

It's a fact that, as we live longer, we need to make good decisions about important financial needs. Are you putting off decisions about life insurance, annuities, securities or other investments because you are confused about all your choices? Are you avoiding making financial plans because you're afraid you'll buy the wrong product or, worse, fall victim to a scam? You don't need to be afraid, but you do need to take action.

Here a few rules that can help protect you from consumer fraud:

  • Never give anyone control of your money just because you think you are too financially inexperienced to invest it yourself. You need to be involved in your investments, even it takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Verify the credentials and backgrounds of professional agents and companies. Ask questions of agents and insist on written materials you can take home and review. Shop around for other offers and estimates before you agree to anything.
  • Give yourself time to review and carefully consider any investment offer. Ask a trusted family member or friend for recommendations and to sit in on discussions.
  • Say "no" to anybody who presses you to make an immediate decision. An investment that is right for you will make sense because you understand it and feel comfortable with the risk involved.
  • Generally, if you are promised high, guaranteed profits and are given no written explanation concerning the investment vehicle, be careful.
  • If you choose to join an investment deal, monitor your funds closely and insist on regular written reports. Look for signs of excessive or unauthorized trading of your funds and be wary if the agent stalls you when you want to pull out your principal or profits.
  • Regularly check bank, credit card and loan statements for anything out of the ordinary. Shred credit card receipts and old bank statements.

The Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Department of Aging have launched a new Web site, www.takeaction.ohio.gov, to help you educate yourself about common types of consumer fraud. Read updates about fraud, learn about regional workshops, share success stories and connect with others about consumer protection. You also can get copies of "Take Action: Protect Yourself From Fraud," a workbook designed to help you identify the right financial products, collect important information and make wise decisions for your financial future.