By Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP ®
You are all aware of the devastating hurricanes that hit Texas, the Gulf and the ones that were, as of the deadline of this article, devastating the Caribbean and soon to hit Florida. You also may notice the many requests for financial aid from many sources. Please remember if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
Remember Madoff and Apogee World with their Ponzi schemes? They along with many other scams sounded so good; however, if you looked a little closer, you would have realized something was not right. Apogee World was offering a chance to get in on bridge loads and receive a return or 10-14 percent. Well, if you checked with a bank, you would have found out that the going interest rate was 6-6.5 percent. Why and how was this company offering double the rate of return? Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Not that it might be; it is a fraud.
Also with the internet you have to be careful with your access passwords and sensitive information. Just last week Equifax which is a site millions rely on for their financial information was hacked. If they can be gotten into, I am pretty sure your site is hackable. Please be diligent with the passwords and IDs for your sites.
There are new frauds coming out every day. Actually, most of them are just rearranged old schemes, like a calls about your grandchild who is in the hospital and in need of money immediately. Do not be taken by someone saying that if you send them some good faith monies up front they will share the funds they just came into with you. No they will not.
Do not fall for a phone call from someone you do not know who says they have an in on a specific stock and it is about to announce a great new breakthrough and the stock is going to explode on the upside. If and when you get calls of this type do not talk to them and say you are going to report them. These numbers they call from are not traceable, so just hang up.
Here is a list of some of the most current scams today: debt collection, internet merchandise scams, credit bureaus and related scams, IRS collections, fake prizes, sweepstakes, free gifts and lottery scams. No, you did not win a big prize in the Irish lottery that you did not even buy a ticket for. Hang up! Also watch out for loan scams, identity theft, phishing and pharming, automobile-related complaints, phishing/spoofing emails, fake government officials, and many, many more.
To prepare and protect yourself go on the internet and type in, “What to do to avoid scams.” Arm yourself with information. Never feel obliged to speak to someone – you do not know these people on the phone and they certainly do not know you. Ignore the ‘everyone is doing it’ – no, they are not! Refuse to be rushed – hang up instead. Don’t go after ‘riches’ scams. They do not exist! Go to the sites for FINRA, SEC, DOL BrokerCheck and SaveAndInvest.org for more information.
I hope this has helped and opened your eyes. Please feel free to contact “Ask the Expert” or Ten Haagen Financial Services at Tenhaagen.com – we are here and ready to assist you with your financial and investment questions. Prepare yourselves for the scam season, which is fast approaching.
Huntington’s Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP, runs Ten Haagen Financial Services, Inc., a full-service independent financial planning firm, and he is here to answer your questions. In this bi-monthly column, Ten Haagen will answer your financial questions and help you with his expert financial advice. Don’t be shy, our expert is here for you, so feel free to ask away! Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org today, and let our expert help you.
*Ten Haagen is an Investment Advisor Representative offering securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., member of FINRA/SIPC, and a registered investment advisor. He is also an active community member, serving on several nonprofit boards and as executive officer of the Greater Huntington Boating Council.
**BACK IN HUNTINGTON: The offices of Ten Haagen Financial Services, Inc. have moved back to 191 New York Ave., Huntington. Friends and clients are welcome to stop by, check out the new office and share a cup of coffee with the expert!