Published October 10, 2006
Older Iowans are targets for con artists.The elderly may be more trusting than younger Iowans, more inclined to talk to telemarketers or chat with someone who shows up at the door.
They may have a healthy savings account or be low-income – either scenario may make them more susceptible to scammers.
A lot of retirees are easier targets simply because they’re home to answer the phone.
So it’s good news that the Iowa Insurance Division has launched a program known as SAIF (Seniors Against Investment Fraud).
As part of the program, members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program will talk to the elderly about topics such as abusive annuities-sales practices.
There are more than 100 meetings planned around Iowa to help educate seniors in their churches, retirement communities and senior centers.
A state Web site will provide more information. People need all the help they can get.
The Register recently detailed the story of Craig and Anna Stark, who lost more than $150,000 after investing in securities peddled by an insurance agent at a free seminar. The securities were mostly shell companies, and the money was being channeled back to the agent.
There are many ways to separate trusting people from their money.
Agents may try to sell inappropriate products to older people, advise them to convert money from a legitimate investment to a “self-directed” one or try to sell them equipment such as pay phones with promises of making more money.
Arming Iowa consumers with more information can help make them less likely to fall prey to losing deals.
To find out more about investment fraud, file a complaint or learn about upcoming meetings, visit www.investsmartiowa.gov or call (877) 955-1212 . Copyright © 2005, The Des Moines Register.