Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seniors Living Alone are at Risk

I recently heard about something very scary in relation to an 80 year old man living alone. A couple knocked on the door saying they were friends of a neighbor and wanted to come in and see his antiques. Once inside they scoured the home for valuables. They questioned the man about what was going to happen to his antiques and other possessions once he died, which is totally inappropriate. They kept asking probing questions about how much the antiques were worth, where do the family members live and who is he leaving these to in his will. After he finally got them to leave, he called the neighbor and asked if she knew them and she said she wasn't sure, but their name seemed familiar.

The next day, the man received a call from someone claiming to be his granddaughter who wanted money of course. The man realized it was a scam and hung up, since he didn't have any granddaughters.

There are several things to be aware of here. One is that those people could have knocked this elderly man in the head and taken whatever they wanted, or worse killed him. He should have never let them inside since he didn't know them.

Second, they could be setting him up for a break-in later, now that they know the layout of the home. They could be watching his house looking for him to leave and swoop in and steal whatever they wanted.

Further, these scammers could easily find out who lives in the neighborhood and pick out an equally elderly neighbor that they might rely on for a faint memory. They simply act as if they know the neighbor when in fact they just "googled" the neighbor and got their name figuring the elderly man would know the close neighbor. In reality, the neighbor doesn't know them at all.

Finally, they could be in cahoots with the supposed granddaughter who called the next day. The fact that this call was the very next day after this couple's visit was pretty suspicious.

It is hard to believe that there are people like this who prey on the elderly, but sadly there are way too many of them. If you have elderly family of friends, then make sure you check on them often and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Just Like I Wrote It

The other day, I went into one of the major banks where I had opened an estate account for a client who passed away. We took care of everything for the client and their beneficiaries and I needed to close the account. I had originally considered opening this account with Schwab, but their review process would have taken three weeks and we needed to close on some real estate sooner than that, so I was forced to go to one of the major banks.

Just so happens, we have some personal accounts at this bank and when I sat down to close the account, the lady tried to sell me everything under the sun. This major bank doesn't do personal loans any more, but they will gladly give you a credit card. She tried to get me to open a credit card account.

I said "No thanks."

Then she tried to get me to take cash out of one of my credit card accounts.

"Why the hell do I want to run up my credit card bill?", I thought to myself.

I said "No thanks."

Then, she tried to get me to refinance my home equity loan for about 1.5% higher than my current rate.

Again, I said "No thanks."

Then, she tried to get me to refinance my home loan which was about 1% higher than my current rate.

"No!", I said.

She finally gave up and closed the account after wasting about 10 minutes of my time. She could tell I was getting perturbed.

This is the typical experience at a major bank today. I hate the damn bank and everything it represents. I would not even have the credit card at this bank if it wasn't for the bank buying my former credit card company. I never even opened the credit card with this bank. They just forced me into their devilish den. I may have to move that credit card account now after that fiasco.

While she was giving me this sales pitch, I couldn't help but notice an older man in the back office with a young stockbroker from a major brokerage firm that just so happens to be owned by the bank. Imagine that. This poor man was around 70 years old and he was doing business in the absolute worst place possible.

Hadn't he read my book? Of course he hasn't. Otherwise, he would have never set foot in that guy's office.

Doesn't he know that these stockbroker's are in business to generate the most revenue possible from him?

Why on earth would you ever do business with a bank owned brokerage firm?

It is so asinine. I am sure that if I reviewed this guy's investment statements, I would see variable annuities, loaded mutual funds, non-publicly traded REIT's and UIT's. Why? Because these are the products that make the bank the most money!

If you do your investment business with a bank or a bank owned brokerage firm, then STOP IT!!! They are ripping you off. For proof, all you have to do is look at your own statements. If you own variable annuities, loaded mutual funds, non-publicly traded REIT's and UIT's, then congratulations you been had. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but you need to wise up and quit letting these people rip you off.

When I went into this bank to close it out, I knew what to expect. I knew they would try and sell me everything under the sun. The poor old man was getting his head taken off in commissions and lack of liquidity and for what? I will tell you for what. The profits of the bank. They don't give a flying you know what about their clients. I don't care what line of BS you hear or what frilly commercials you see on television. They are in business to make as much money as they can off of you. Don't you ever forget it.

The only place to do your investment business is with an Independent Registered Investment Adviser who is not affiliated with a bank, brokerage firm or insurance company.

Of course, when little unknown guys like me write books, it is so hard to get any traction on book sales unless you are somebody famous. In my opinion, if a book does something to help you, then it doesn't make a hill of beans who wrote it. What may surprise people to know is that my book, "Meet Wally Street. The Reason You're Stupid." would have warned the 70 year old gentlemen never to do business with a bank owned brokerage firm period. In other words, it would have helped him!

I described this exact scenario to watch out for in my book. This is how it always is with me. I will write about something and read about other people's horror stories describing it later. Except in this case, I saw it with my own two eyes. It was sad to see let me tell you. I feel sorry for that elderly gentleman.

If you want a Christmas gift idea, then give people my book. You will save them a lot of money and headaches. It is only $3.99 on electronic devices and only $19.99 if you are old fashioned and want a real book. That's a bargain compared to the money that you will save them.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.