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Scams Against Senior Citizens Become Mainstream -- Here's How to Protect Yourself or Your Loved Ones

Aug 18, 2007
You may have heard about some of the con games criminals are playing on senior citizens. Most of the con artists are low-level thugs who know that seniors, especially widows, are easy targets. But now, trusted and legitimate businesses have jumped into the game.

You need to know that some banks and insurance companies now target seniors for high-risk investments that bring the companies huge commissions. And the senior usually doesn't get anything in return until well after she's passed away.

The banks are really getting into this con. For them, it's easy. A senior walks into the bank to cash in a CD -- a very safe and conservative investment for a senior. When she does, a salesman is there to greet her with an incredible offer -- an equity-indexed annuity.

So what's wrong with an annuity? Well, the problem isn't with the annuity, per se, though they are not necessarily a trouble-free investment. The issue is how suitable these investments are for a person in her 70s or 80s. Annuities take many, many years to mature to the point of profitability. In the early years, most of the money you pay in goes to pay the commission. And if you want to cancel the annuity, you may pay up to a 25% penalty fee. In other words, a widow putting her money into an annuity is simply saying goodbye to the money. She'll never see it again.

This is a con game that should really irritate Christians. The Bible is very clear about our duty to take care of orphans and widows. Encouraging them to make unwise investments is just the opposite of that duty. And since widows are particularly vulnerable to this type of trap, you need to know how to protect yourself, your spouse, or your parent before it happens.

If your parents are retired and looking for safe places to put their money, advise them strongly not to put it into these annuities. They need to find investment instruments that are more suited to their stage of life. Annuities definitely are not. And if their bank tries to sell them one, they should find another bank. That bank doesn't have your parents' best interests at heart and just wants to misappropriate their money. Look for banks that will help you protect your parents rather than pad their own pockets. There are much better places than annuities for seniors to put their money, including CDs.
About the Author
Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom's Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit http://www.wisdomsedge.com and sign up for this free e-zine.
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