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June 3 - 9, 2010
“Free Lunch” Scams Aimed at Seniors
A few years ago, seniors began receiving invitations in the mail to attend a free lunch at a nice location and hear about investment information. Experts would be in attendance to answer any questions. It wasn’t all on the level, however. The Securities and Exchange Commission got involved when it turned out that seniors were facing high-pressure sales tactics -- being pushed to sign documents they didn’t understand and being forced into investments that really didn’t exist. The SEC issued a report after doing a study that showed just how widespread the problem was. Things have changed. The newest incarnation of the “free lunch” scam is a bit more dangerous, as shown in an updated version of the study. Here’s how it works: You still get the same invitation in the mail. But now, when you arrive at the seminar, you’re pressured to divulge personal financial information. The scammers also want your contact information and will try to follow up by meeting you at your home to sell you financial products that might not even be appropriate for you. The study said that 6 million seniors past the age of 55 have attended these free lunches just in the past three years. That’s 6 million opportunities to take our money, not to mention what could be done with our personal information. The AARP has started a Free Lunch Monitor program to help us stay on top of these scams. It even has a “What to Listen for Checklist” to take with you if you decide to go to one of these seminars. Fill out the checklist and send it to the AARP afterward -- it will add to its information base about how these scammers are operating. Additionally, if you’ve received an invitation in the mail, the AARP wants to see it. For more information, you can check the website at: www.aarp.org/nofreelunch. Send Checklists or invitations to: AARP Free Lunch Monitor Program, PO Box 93028, Long Beach, Calif. 90809 Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to email@example.com. © 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.
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