State has resources to avoid fraud
(Salem) – With a lifetime
of accumulated savings, seniors are prime targets for financial fraud. As World
Elder Abuse Awareness Day arrives June 15, the Department of Consumer and
Business Services reminds seniors and their family members about ways to avoid
financial trouble and where to turn for help.
investigates investment scams as well as securities. It also investigates
insurance companies and agents that sell products that are not a financial fit
for their customers.
“With unusually low
interest rates on traditionally safe products such as bonds and CDs, we worry
that more and more people will be tempted to invest in schemes that sound too
good to be true and are, in fact, scams,” said David Tatman, administrator of
the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.
Some key concerns:
higher-than-average investment returns: Be wary of investment offers that
promise big returns with no risk. Never invest in a product you do not
understand. Research investment opportunities, get a second opinion and call
the state for help in determining whether an investment is legitimate.
Buying a product that is
unlikely to pay out while you’re alive or that leaves you with little money to
pay bills: If you invest in a product such as an annuity that typically
requires a lump sum of money upfront in return for an income stream down the
road, make sure you understand when it will start paying out and the penalties
for withdrawing money early. If someone tries to convince you to replace one
investment with another, have a financial adviser check it out or call a state
insurance consumer advocate.
Turning to the wrong
people for financial help: People you consider friends may take advantage of
social or cultural connections to pitch scams. Others might try to convince you
of their investment or insurance expertise by boasting of a “senior
designation.” Make sure you understand any credentials being touted. Oregon
prohibits those who sell financial and insurance products from marketing
themselves by claiming they are a “specialist,” “adviser,” or similar title
when they have no solid credentials based on legitimate professional training.
“Of course, you should
always be aware of the “free lunch” and “free seminar” offers that investment
professionals use as a marketing technique,” Tatman said. “These sales pitches
can end up costing you plenty.”
Help with finance
Here are state resources
if you have investment or insurance questions.
Division of Finance and
Corporate Securities: Staff can help you research whether an investment is
registered to be sold in Oregon or a firm or investment adviser is licensed in
Oregon, a key first step to avoiding fraud. Call 866-814-9710.
answer insurance questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call
888-877-4894. For example, they can tell you whether someone is licensed to
sell insurance in Oregon or look into an agent or company that might have sold
you a product that doesn’t fit your financial situation.
Medicare help: The Senior
Health Insurance Benefits Assistance program can help you with Medicare
questions, including your various insurance options. Call 800-722-4134.
SHIBA is part of the
Oregon Insurance Division and the Department of Consumer and Business Services,
Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency.