This blog will sound like I’m paranoid and want you to
be. Exactly! You’ve heard the expression, “it’s not
paranoia when someone actually wants to kill you?”. Been there, done that. But that’s another story. This one is about financial predators and our
new motto is “it’s okay to be paranoid about your money because there are
people, right now, who are scheming to get it.”
Simpler version: “be paranoid about your money”.
Whether you’re a senior on your own, a single mom or single
father with a modest home or if you’re young and at the beginning of your life
– for everyone one of you, there is a financial predator who would like your
You would cry to know how many people have called me asking
for help because someone swindled them out of their life savings, their car,
their jewelry or more. Financial
predators do not walk down dark alleys with knives wearing ski masks. They are much harder to see. So take my word for it, as a PI who
specializes in lost inheritance, will fraud, probate fraud, and just plain old
stealin’, it can happen and it can happen quickly.
Here are my five top recommendations for protecting your assets.
If you have assets over $1M, it would be wise to have a financial safety plan in place, set up by a professional. If your assets are under $20k, still do these things and make them life-long habits. In between, just do something.
ASSUME EVERYONE WOULD LIKE YOUR MONEY
Live with that assumption, and you won’t
give up too much personal information. You
can misjudge everyone in your life, and it won’t matter.
As a former cop, I had an employee once who
was trusted with a debit card to pay for small items. The limit on the card was kept at $200. She eventually figured out how to get cash on
the card, even though she did not have the pin and Wells Fargo claimed it was
impossible. I assumed she would not
steal because I liked her and after all, who would steal from a former
cop? After I found the theft, I had her
arrested and charged. Which was no easy
task. But I screwed up, didn’t I? Financial predators will even steal with a
picture of their boss in a police uniform above their desk!
ASSUME EVERY REQUEST FOR INFORMATION IS A POTENTIAL FINANCIAL PREDATOR
There is no reason under the sun or moon for
someone to have your passwords, account numbers, secret answers, etc. If you really need someone to know, then
choose the most trustworthy professional you know. But generally, there is no reason for someone
to know. Well, actually, I’d like to
know. Can you send me those
passwords? I promise not to use them.
MOVE YOUR ASSETS ANNUALLY
This is the “shell game” version of
financial defense. Similar to old con
artists, move your stuff around. Change
banks. Change storage units. Change online accounts. In case someone comes hunting for your
assets, make it hard for them to find them.
DO NOT LET “LOVE” BE AN EXCUSE TO LET DOWN YOUR GUARD AND SHARE YOUR ASSETS
I am pained to write this and think of all
the middle-aged and senior ladies that have lost their life savings to their
“newest love” who promised that if he could only “borrow” he could (enter any
fantasy promise here). If only you hand
over control of your assets.
No man (or woman) deserves your hard-won
assets. Keep them for you only. This is the only rule I know of which has no
SPREAD IT AROUND AND KEEP AN EYE OUT
Instead of keeping all of your cash,
assets, vehicles, jewelry, etc. in one place, put it in a couple of
places. For example, have four online
trading accounts for your stocks. Use
separate usernames and passwords and keep them in different places. This is also known as the “water-tight
compartments” strategy to keep a boat from sinking. If the financial predator gets some of your
assets, they won’t get all of them.
You’ll still be afloat!
Lastly, just be aware and be smart. Think of this as a game between you and an
unknown predator. Or predators. Bring your A-game. I don’t care if you’re 20 or 80. Take care of your money and other
valuables. It’s up to you.
And be safe out there!