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(originally published February 2009)
Today’s unstable economy has driven many baby boomers to reexamine their monthly expenses, investing strategies and retirement plans. For more than 16 million of those boomers, the economy has not just raised questions for their own finances, but for the parents they look after as well. These boomers fall into what’s called the “Sandwich Generation.”
Members of the Sandwich Generation are adults who take care of their dependent children as well as their elderly parents. Their parents don’t necessarily live in the same house as them, but this generation often feels the pressure of balancing the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents and themselves. One of the biggest responsibilities comes with managing personal finances.
Money is often considered a taboo topic for conversations, but it’s one that members of the Sandwich Generation should not avoid when talking to their aging parents. A primary concern for this generation should be making sure their parents are financially stable and armed with the tools they need to avoid investment fraud.
Seniors are among the most common victims of investment fraud because of their age and accumulated wealth. Fraudsters will also take advantage of the fact that some seniors live on a fixed income or may be in fear of running out of their retirement money. These scam artists will try to gain trust by appearing professional and acting like a friend.
Members of the Sandwich Generation can help by educating their parents about investment fraud. It’s important not to challenge their financial independence, but rather show genuine concern for helping them maintain that independence without falling victim to scams.
One helpful piece of advice is the phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Fraudsters often promise guaranteed high returns with no risk. In reality, investments always carry some risk and there is never a guarantee that you will make money.
Scam artists will sometimes pressure seniors to act right away, telling them that an investment is only being offered to a select number of people and that they shouldn’t tell anyone else about the opportunity. However, it’s important for seniors to read through everything, do their homework and talk to multiple, licensed professionals before entering an investment. Check to see if an investment and the person selling it are licensed with the Indiana Securities Division by calling 1-800-223-8791 or using the searchable databases on http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/.
Sandwich Generation members should also warn their parents about titles like “senior specialist” that imply someone is an expert even though they may not have received the necessary training. Also, scam artists sometimes host “free” lunch seminars under the guise of educating seniors about investing strategies, but end up pressuring them to make hasty investment decisions on the spot. Visit www.aarp.org/money for more information on tackling these fraud tactics.
Finally, emphasize the importance of reporting instances of fraud to the Indiana Securities Division by calling 1-800-223-8791 or filing a complaint online at http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/. Some victims feel embarrassed or ashamed that they fell for a scheme, but they likely weren’t the only victim. Reporting fraud can help our office protect future investors.
For more information on addressing the many financial responsibilities of the Sandwich Generation, visit http://www.nasaa.org/.
- Visit AARP
- Visit the NASAA Sandwich Generation resource center
- File a complaint with the Securities Division
- Contact the Securities Division