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Protect Your Older Family & Friends

This article was spurred by this article in the Wall Street Journal: Financial Scammers Increasingly Target Elderly Americans.  The elderly are indeed a target because of three reasons:

Seniors are targets, and not just by those who are regarded as fraudsters.  I had an older friend who was approached by the sales professionals of a major bank to manage her $3 million portfolio, which was already well-managed.  They made all manner of promises of what they would do for her, in exchange for a fee on assets — 3%/year.

At that level of expense, there are a lot of things that could benefit the Senior in question, but the nice-looking, unctuous people from the bank sell an expensive mirage.  I’ve never seen a bank that was genuinely good at asset management, and certainly not to the degree of charging a 3% fee.

Every elderly person needs a younger skeptical friend who is sharp enough to be able sense when a deal is sketchy, and the elderly person needs to have the discipline to run things by their younger friend.

As I so often say, “Don’t buy what someone wants to sell you.  Buy what you have researched for yourself.”  The elderly should develop a hatred of marketers.  Hang up on anyone who is offering something that is “too good to be true” because it almost always is too good to be true.

To those who Lead Churches

I am an elder in my Reformed Presbyterian congregation.  I have served my denomination on the boards of its college, denominational trustees, finance committee, and pension board.  In my congregation, we watch out for our elderly members.  We make their requests a priority.  If they need financial advice, I give it to them for free.  God rewards those who aid widows.

I encourage Church leaders who have enough financial sense to be able to know when something financial “feels funny” to gather their elderly congregants, and tell them to call you if they are tempted by slick-talking salesmen to make them part with money.

To those who Love Elderly Family or Friends

Take the time to tell them to be careful, and that you are available to help them whenever someone calls them out of the blue, where that party will benefit from money from the senior, no matter what it is.  This isn’t as tough as telling them to give up the car keys (been through that once).  But they do need to be sensitized to two things:

  • There are people out there who want to cheat them, and
  • You love them, and will help them in any situation like that.

We’re supposed to take care of and honor elderly people anyway.  Societies that don’t do that tend to fail.  So look out for your elderly friends to the degree consonant with your relationship to them.

Christianity, Ethics, Personal Finance, Portfolio Management | RSS 2.0 |

3 Responses to Protect Your Older Family & Friends

  1. Greg says:

    I thought the Bible said “do onto others as you would like to have done onto you”. Is the blog author now second guessing the Bible?

    Because the elderly created a ponzi scam known as Social Security. That is how the elderly want to be treated.

    The elderly took a country that was the largest creditor in the history of the world, and ran it deep into dept. Senior citizen Paul Krugman loaded students up with tens of thousands in unpayable student loans — and then went to work building a $17 trillion national debt. “Now is not the time to pay it back” Krugman says — wait until after Krugman is dead and it becomes future generations’ burden.

    The elderly are reaping what they sowed. They sold their children into debt slavery. They created a ponzi scheme to make their children pay for the parents retirement.

    In days of old, the young looked out for the elderly ***AND*** the elderly looked out for the young.

    Its a two way street David. Not a pitty party for parents who sold their children into debt slavery.

    • If someone sins against me, it doesn’t give me the right to sin against them. We don’t overcome evil with evil, we overcome it with good. My Heavenly Father is very kind to many people who hate him. I should be like Him. The Psalms are replete with the idea of doing good to those hate you. As Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”

      I know the math behind Social Security, Medicare, etc. very well; I’ve been writing about it for over 20 years. Just because our government gives you a progressively worse deal the younger you are, does not remove the voluntary incentive to care for those near you. Love is greater than justice.

      Some ethical issues are corporate; others are individual. My piece last night dealt with individual ethics, not corporate ethics. They are different issues, and not comparable. There are no trade-offs here. “Do to others, as you would have others do to you,” means you look out for the best interests of others, regardless of their behavior.

      • Greg says:

        I hope to leave the world a little less in debt for my children. That is my obligation. Leaving your children a world a little better than when you found it was the American Dream until the selfish baby boomers. We will now all suffer for their misdeeds.

        I am not advocating that anyone steal from baby boomers just because they stole from the future. Just pointing out that “Thou Shall not Steal” applies to parents stealing from their children too. Lying and mislabeling the theft as “debt” does not make it right — it is merely a second sin on top of the first.

        I would have left your post alone if you had the courage to carry it through to the full story. Church elders and priests/ministers should have the courage to tell their congregation that stealing from children is morally wrong.

        Expecting your children to forgive you when you have not asked forgiveness and are in fact still stealing $1 trillion per year!!! — that is rather absurd.

        Baby boomers are thieves. They need to stop stealing, and ask for forgiveness. So far, they show no remorse; they are still stealing $1 trillion per year. They continue to sell future Americans into debt slavery — and that is wrong.

        In the meantime, lets hope Generation X, Y and Millenials learn from the baby boomer’s selfish ways — and lets try not to repeat the boomers sins.

        That would be a great sermon, but I haven’t heard any Priests/ Ministers give it. I also notice the young are increasingly labeling themselves as “spiritual” instead of being part of an organized religion. They still love God, but not organized churches….

        because they have figured out the church elders pick and choose which teachings to mention. Priest pedophilia was done by the church, and covered up by the church — not God. Church elders were silent on those sins for way too long. God still very popular — the church not so much.


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.

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