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Keep a close watch on your money

(ran TP, CI, PT, HT editions)

Older relatives and friends with money to invest often are the target of investment con artists. State and federal investment regulators have some sound advice to pass on to help avoid those offers that seem too good to be true.

+ Don't be a "courtesy victim." Con artists don't hesitate to take advantage of people with good manners. A stranger that calls either on the phone or at the door should be regarded with the utmost caution.

+ Check out strangers touting "strange" deals. Trusting strangers is a mistake that all too many older Americans make when it comes to personal finances. Say "no" to any investment professional or con artist who presses you to make an immediate decision and gives you no opportunity to check out the salesperson, the firm and the investment opportunity itself.

+ Always stay in charge of your money. Beware of any financial professional who suggests putting your money into something you don't understand or who promises to "take care of everything for you."

+ Never judge a person's integrity by how he or she "sounds." Successful con artists sound extremely professional and combine professional-sounding sales pitches with extremely polite manners.

+ Older women with little investment experience should exercise particular caution. A con artist's ideal victim is the "elderly widow." Elderly women on their own with little investment experience should always seek the advice of family members or a disinterested professional before deciding what to do with their savings.

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