Seminar features fraud-avoidance tips

Clint Niemeyer with the Alabama Securities Commission gives tips on avoiding financial scams during an Aug. 2 visit to the Pelham Senior Center. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

 By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Members of the Pelham Senior Center got lessons on protecting themselves against fraud and planning for the future during a morning-long estate planning seminar on Aug. 2.

During the seminar, which was held as part of the Pelham Public Library’s Smart Investing at Your Library program, financial and estate-planning experts taught the seniors how to protect their assets now and after they pass away.

Clint Niemeyer, a representative from the Alabama Securities Commission, gave the crowd tips on avoiding financial scams, and said con artists frequently prey on senior citizens.

“Scammers prefer to target baby boomers because they have been able to save more over their lifetimes,” Niemeyer said. “There will always be those who prey on retirees, and they will do it day in and day out until they are caught.”

Niemeyer encouraged the seniors to investigate a situation before investing their money, and said con artists usually will offer deals guaranteeing unrealistic returns over a short period of time.

“There is no deal that will benefit you that can’t wait 24 hours,” Niemeyer said, noting scams have been on the rise during the current economic downturn. “If you encounter a deal that sounds too good to be true, ask yourself ‘If this is so good, why is this guy not keeping it to himself?’”

In addition to the Pelham Library, the program was facilitated by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. In addition to Niemeyer’s session, the event also featured estate-planning attorney Dr. Robert Tufts, who explained the importance of having a will.

Tufts also explained the difference between a will, a trust and a living will, and told the seniors when each document is important.

“Some of the people here may already have a will,” said Regional Extension Agent Ruth Brock. “But sometimes things change, and this is good advice if they need to update it.”

Tufts explained the importance of proper record keeping to allow family members to find important documents in the future.

“There are two large purposes of estate planning. It determines who gets the assets and when they get them,” Tufts said.