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Investment scams exploit green theme

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McLEAN, Va. (11/25/09)--“Going green” generally has a positive association, but that wasn’t the case for some unsuspecting seniors looking for eco-friendly investments. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged four people and two companies with running a $30 million Ponzi scheme targeting elderly investors and people close to retirement who thought they’d found a green opportunity (USA Today Nov. 16). Victims were encouraged through seminars, the Internet, and phone calls to liquidate their retirement plans and home equity, and buy securities promising returns from 17% to more than 100% a year. Rising health-care costs, low investment returns, and increased life expectancy make seniors prime targets of investment fraud, but consumers of any age can fall victim to these tactics. The National Consumers League, Washington D.C., advises:
* Don’t succumb to high-pressure sales--A good investment opportunity today likely will be here tomorrow. Pressure to act on impulse often is a danger sign of fraud. * Beware promises of quick, large profits--No one can accurately predict how an investment will perform. Investments that promise the highest payoff often are the most risky. * Realize there is always risk--All investments carry risk. Know your risk tolerance before investing. * Get details in writing--Representatives from a legitimate company will be happy to provide all the information you need. * Be wary of testimonials from strangers--Someone you don’t know offering investment advice could be a crook trying to lure you into a scam. * Investigate investment offers--Get help from your state securities regulator, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (sec.gov), and the North American Securities Administrators Association (nasaa.org). * Use caution when receiving investment opportunity e-mails--Many unsolicited e-mails are fraudulent.
To learn more about senior scams, listen to "Investment Scams Targeting Baby Boomers’ Retirement Savings" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

HandFF Radio warns shoppers discusses taxes debt

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WASHINGTON (11/25/09)--Sunday's H&FF Radio program provides information about shielding your financial identity while holiday shopping, making year-end tax moves, and understanding interchange issues and debt settlement reform. Home & Family Finance airs Sundays at 3 p.m. EST on the Radio America Network. The show also is carried on American Forces Radio Network. The one-hour program devoted to consumer finance issues is brought to you by America's credit unions and their 90 million members, and is presented by CO-OP Network. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and Radio America are podcasting Home & Family Finance through iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and other popular podcast library sites, as well as on Radio America and CUNA's websites. Sunday's show, which you also can hear later via the Internet, features Paul Berry, Washington, D.C., journalist and broadcaster, discussing these topics with special guests:
* "Your Identity is Not for Sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday," with Scott Stevenson, founder and CEO, Eliminate ID Theft, Atlanta, Ga.; * "Your Income Taxes: What to Do Before Dec. 31," with Ethan Ewing, president, Bills.com, San Mateo, Calif.; * "What You Should Know About Interchange," with Caroline Lane, senior vice president, business development and marketing, CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and * "Federal Trade Commission Proposes Reform of Debt Settlement Industry: How Reform Will Help You,” with Michael Bovee, founder and president, Consumer Recovery Network, Sandpoint, Idaho.
Home & Family Finance is a resource center for personal finance information at CUNA. The radio show is sponsored by CO-OP Network, the national credit union ATM network; Cabot Creamery Cooperative, maker of award-winning cheddar; Western Corporate FCU (WesCorp) and its member credit unions; and the Defense Credit Union Council and member credit unions, serving those who serve the country worldwide. For more information, read "Debt Settlement Sets a Costly Trap” and see the “How to Prevent Identity Theft” video in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.