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 in the beginning of your life – for everyone one of you, there is a financial predator who would like your assets.
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 quick.
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 you’re 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 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-age 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 exceptions. None!
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.
If you like this blog, please share it with friends. And be safe out there!