Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘lottery

Con Artists As Dangerous as Mugger with a Gun

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Whistling_to_the_Bank

 

By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Con artists feed on the greedy and the careless. And also on the polite. Folks continue to give out numbers for their bank accounts, credit cards, and Social Security just because a caller has requested them.
The unseen solicitor poses as a fraud investigator looking into charges have been made against your credit card and offers to repair your account. He or she will ask to verify your numbers and address and other such information.

Ask for a phone number so you can call them back. Then hang up, whether they give you a number or not. Don’t be polite. They’re crooks trying to steal your money. Call the local Better Business Bureau and tell them about the call.

If you’re concerned about your credit-card account,  call the phone number on the back of the card to discuss the
matter with a company representative.

The ubiquitous cell phone with a camera has become a weapon these thieves are using more and more. They use telephone camera to take photos of credit cards. That gives them your name,account number and expiration date — enough to run out and clean out your account. So don’t leave your card laying on a counter at the store or table at a restaurant.

Never let the card out of your sight. Crooked employees can swipe your card through a scanner to
copy the magnetic strip.

The expanding use of the Internet has widened the horizon for these crooks exponentially. Never
send any information over the ‘Net, unless you’ve initiated the contact with a reputable mail-order house you’ve dealt with regularly, such as Land’s End, or if you’re ordering something from an e-mail house, such as e-Bay or Amazon.

Don’t be fooled by an Internet website that looks official. Scammers can set up an official looking page and have your responses diverted to their own e-mailbox and merrily milk your funds. The Web also is a great marketplace for crooks selling bogus products described as healthful supplements and medical devices.

The old standby scams are still around, like the lottery and Nigerian schemes. The first involves a contact that says you’ve won money in a lottery and all you have to do to get your money is wire funds to cover tariffs and attorney fees because the money is originating from abroad. One Southern California resident was bilked out of more than $250,000 by these schemers not too long ago. The Nigerian plotters have a variety of stories that are all designed to break your bank. there for a bit and they’ll give you a handsome fee.

Then there’s this tried-and-true con. You receive a gaudy piece of mail or an “invitation” that says you’ve won a rather hefty gift or a tempting vacation trip, for example. All you have to do is send a few hundred dollars to expedite the paper work.
Chuck it in the paper shredder. If you don’t have one, get one. They’re inexpensive and can be used to shred all paper that carries sensitive and financial information: statements from your bank, credit-card companies, brokerage firm, and mortgage company.

Watch out for gift checks you receive in the mail. A neighbor cashed in small such check — it was for less than $10 — from a company she had dealt with and learned in her next statement that, by cashing the check, she signed on to pay a monthly fee for a travel service the company provided. She didn’t need any such service since she works for an airline but the firm said by cashing the check, she was automatically signed on, and that was that.
Remember the gilded rule: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Finance

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Test Your Financial IQ

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

A fun question posed not too long ago by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance is a quick test of your economics erudition.

It asked how big a check you think you would get if you chose the cash option after winning a lottery jackpot of $100 million but had to split it with another person who also had the winning lottery number.

After cutting the winnings in half and choosing a one-time cash payment, you would get a check
of about $20 million, according to the magazine.

By taking the one-time payout instead of payments over 30 years, the prize amount is whittled
down by the principle known as the ‘time value of money” using a formula comparing the worth of today’s dollar against $1 three decades from now.

This cuts your half-share ($50 million) of the lottery winnings to about $27 million. The Internal
Revenue Service claims about a quarter of that right off the top. And then there are layers of other state and federal taxes to cut through before being able to tote your final take to the bank. However, investing a $20 million windfall into tax-free investments isn’t such a terrible financial fate.

Another question dealt with this quandary: should a woman remarry after her husband of several decades has died and give up  his Social Security survivor’s benefits based on his hefty earnings history?

It depends how old you are. If you’re 60 years or older, you can remarry and collect benefits based on your  deceased spouse’s record.

Mature Life Features, Copyright February 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 29, 2012 at 12:05 am