The so-called Professionals are coming…after your money. Not just the Retirement Roll-Overs of the Baby Boomers, 10,000 of whom are turning 65 (on average) every single day; but, they are also focusing on the somewhat older Seniors and the Military (past and present). In fact, they will leave no stone–or bank, brokerage or benefit–unturned.
But, for this Blog Post, let’s focus on the 75 year old, or older, Military War Veterans who are down on their luck financially. The linked article, from the NY Times, describes the latest such scam, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/business/winning-veterans-trust-and-profiting-from-it.html?ref=business&pagewanted=print. Now, you might not be in that Senior, Senior status yet, or a Vet; but, if they will go after these codgers, they will go after anyone. And, some of them can be totally unscrupulous.
It appears that these scammers approach the Veterans’ Administration to become “credentialed” (whatever that means). Perhaps, they might read a booklet; however, would the VA be in a position to administer a legal, securities or insurance exam? They probably just verify the person’s own professional credentials–and they’re “IN”. But, either way, many Seniors will accept the VA credential as “a stamp-of-approval”.
Then, they make contact with retirement communities and assisted living facilities, at which they can provide a seminar (another word for sales pitch) and tour. Perhaps, this situation applies more to Vets in their 70s and older, who DO need, at least, some help in their daily life. This Veterans Pension benefit only applies to War Vets with an Annual Income of $12,465, or less. Apparently, these “professionals” seem not to hear the income constraint or just forget to mention it to their prospective clients.
Apparently, these people are very creative in how they get compensated for their, as it appears in many cases, “giving people the business”. Some take a lump-sum fee up front, perhaps some are partially compensated (as a finder’s fee) by the retirement homes and ALFs or, maybe they receive a portion of the monthly VA benefit.
Remember the old saying, “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. Hey, I’ve had a number of Greek Friends in the past; but, it’s just an “old saying”, huh? As the one man told his Daughter, it just sounded too good to be true–and it was. As it turned-out, after he had moved into the ALF, he learned that he did not qualify for the VA Pension since, after including his Social Security, his income was too high. But, it was certainly not high enough, without that benefit, to cover the expense of the retirement home.
So, whenever you encounter a professional, in any line, remember that the only dumb question is the one that was not asked. Especially since this program is designed for the Elderly, they should be able to explain it in simple words, and not jargon or sales gobbledygook. Do not accept an abstract “Plan”–make them (as Ricky Ricardo used to say) “splain it”. When possible, have another person sit-in on the presentation with you. Also, don’t sign-up or decide immediately after the sales pitch.