I don’t have to warn you to beware of retirement scams. We are all aware that it’s big business, these days.
Scammers are everywhere and there are a multitude of websites that warn everyone to beware. There are also a multitude of sites owned by scammers clever enough to appear as credible.
Retirement is something we all anticipate eagerly even if we love our careers. It’s an opportunity to live on our own terms and pursue interests and pastimes we didn’t have time for while we were earning a living.
So while getting our ducks in a row and trying to decide what we want to be when we grow up, dozens of opportunities pop up in email messages and snail mail. Investment schemes, employment schemes, health care schemes, and on and on.
Here are a few tips on how to spot scammers:
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra.org), it’s so easy to be reeled in by so-called financial “experts” promising early retirement options that are not really employer-sponsored.
An example on the FINRA website describes how a brokerage firm offered free seminars near the place of employment to pitch their recommendations on how to:
- Retire early
- Cash out of their 401 (k) or take a lump sum of their pension’s value and
- Open an IRA at the broker’s firm investing in high risk and high fee securities.
Tips to help you avoid being scammed by unscrupulous brokers.
- Be wary of “Free lunch” seminars near your place of employment;
- Don’t fall for early retirement advice using little known “loopholes”;
- Consider the tax consequences before cashing in on your 401 (k). Best advice: check with a tax professional before withdrawing any funds.
- If you’ve got outstanding debt (child support, credit card debt, alimony) your creditors may be able to collect against any funds you receive even if you’re rolling it over into another investment IRA.
- Be wary of variable annuities as there are a variety of charges associated with these investments.
- If you do attend a retirement seminar, always check the speaker’s credentials. Be sure they are registered with FINRA or the SEC. Check through FINRA BrokerCheck or call their Hotline at (800) 289-9999. Even if the broker is registered, be sure to look for any red flags such as disciplinary actions.
- Before committing to any early retirement plan, get a second opinion!
Remember, there is an additional 10% tax placed on withdrawals before age 59-1/2 any retirement plan, including traditional IRAs.
I hope you find this post useful. I’m always interested in feedback and suggestions based on personal experiences so be sure to let me know in the comments if you’ve got something to add to this post.
Stay tuned for more posts on the many other scams targeting retirees.