Walsh offers these as red flags: a broker who pressures you to make important financial decisions on the spot; suggests that “everyone can retire early”; or promises a return of 12 percent or more.
You should also find out whether any broker you are considering working with is registered with Finra by calling the government’s hotline at 800-289-9999 or usingBrokerCheck.
Gold Coin Scams
With the price of gold bouncing around record highs, coin collecting has become big business.
And scam artists are on the prowl.
“There are legitimate coin collectors, but there are also a lot of scams out there,” says Doug Shadel, author of AARP’s “Outsmarting the Scam Artists.” “They’re trying to scare people with ads that say the sky is falling and the market is collapsing and the only thing you can count on is precious metals.”
Many who advertise falsify information about the grade or condition of the collectable coins they sell, use counterfeit coins or encase damaged coins in plastic display cases to obscure their resale value.
Others go so far as to sell gold coins to investors and charge a fee for storage so the buyers never have to fret about keeping it safe in their homes. Trouble is, the scammers don’t own any gold to begin with.
Many retirees find that they need or want to return to work part-time, so beware the fraudulent job offer.
Some scams, advertised online or by e-mail, offer to pay you $1,000 to act as a secret shopper, in which you get paid to observe the customer service performance of major retailers.
“The ads usually say they’ll pay you $1,000 and give you another $1,000 to use for shopping, but after you sign up they send you a check for $3,000,” says Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Then they call to say, ‘Oops, it was only supposed to be $2,000. Can you wire us back the $1,000?”
Gotcha. The check, you guessed it, bounces when you go to cash it and you’re out $1,000.
Work-from-home employment scams can be far worse.
The bait — a legitimate looking website that claims to offer jobs you can do from your living room. When you call, the “company” conducts a fake interview and you get the job!
In order to set up payroll, however, the person on the other end of the line just needs you to fill out a form with your Social Securitynumber and bank account information.
There’s no real job, of course, but you will spend countless hours trying to reclaim your stolen identity.
Health Care Scams
Fraudulent health products that are not proven safe or effective are marketed everywhere — infomercials, magazines, the Internet.
Many claim to help consumers look younger, lose weight, or cure diseases that are common among the elderly.
The financial loss can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, but the health risk is more serious still as consumers who fall for such scams may be counseled to stop or delay conventional treatment for their disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Many health fraud scams include bogus dietary supplements, arthritis remedies (magnets, copper bracelets and special diets), anti-aging and weight loss products and unapproved treatments for cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, which may be conducted in foreign “clinics.”
The FDA warns consumers to be wary of personal testimonials by “real people” or “doctors,” who are played by actors on TV, and to consult their physicians before using any home health product — especially if they are already taking medications.