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Advice & More October 2014

Dollar Sense

How to Turn up the Heat against Those Trying Fraudulently to Turn Back Time

By Teresa Ambord

The FBI says seniors are particularly vulnerable to anti-aging scams, such as those which offer free products if you’d just be so kind as to provide a credit card number, you know… for shipping and handling (the handling fee is where they may get you, since it is up to their discretion).

Another scam common targeting senior citizens: anti-aging products and services.

Who doesn’t want to look younger? Every now and then, there is a legitimate medical breakthrough which really does seem to make us look younger, but they are rare. Our generation has seen amazing advances in science and technology – putting a man on the moon, heart transplants, limitless information at our fingertips – so it seems natural that we continue to hope there will be a lotion or pill that will appear to turn back time.

It should also come as no surprise that scammers take advantage of that desire to pick our pockets. The FBI says seniors are particularly vulnerable to anti-aging scams, such as those which offer free products if you’d just be so kind as to provide a credit card number, you know… for shipping and handling (the handling fee is where they may get you, since it is up to their discretion).

Some products are sold for a very low price if you lock into an agreement where you’ll be sent new shipments every month, which of course are charged to your credit card.

Because seniors are most vulnerable, the FBI warns:

  • Beware of any product that claims to have a “secret formula” or provide a “breakthrough.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, like exactly what a product should and should not do for you.
  • Do some research on your own about anti-aging products. You can always call the Better Business Bureau to ask if there have been complaints about a product.
  • Realize that celebrity testimonials and endorsements can be misleading.
  • Beware of products which are marketed as having “no side effects.”
  • If a product says it makes a visit to a physician unnecessary, beware.
  • Take no dietary or nutritional supplement without consulting your doctor first.
  • If you do want to order something, get a physical address rather than just a post office box and a telephone number. Also, before you place an order actually call the seller at the number you are given to make sure it is a real number.

While we’re on the subject, wants you to know long-term use of anti-aging products can permanently change your skin texture. You could end up with changed skin pigmentation, dry skin, and acne. Some products cause the natural cycle of skin shedding to speed up, which might make your facial blood vessels more visible. In summary, some may appear to make you look younger, but in the end, leave more damage than they claim to repair. Zenspiration adds, safe ingredients for skin care products include such things as: aloe-vera, coconut oil, essential oils and unrefined butters like cocoa, shea and mango.

But let’s face it. You know the real secret to anti-aging as much as reasonably possible – eat right, exercise moderately, drink plenty of water, and avoid too much sun. And laugh a lot, live humbly and with grace, and be interested in something.

Marilyn Monroe was a bombshell who had all the money in the world to create artificial beauty. Yet she said: “I want to grow old without facelifts… I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I’ve made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know you.”  -Marilyn Monroe


Holidays Coming – Shop Safely this Year

Did you see the recent news video of an elderly woman whose purse was lifted out of her shopping cart? In the process, she was knocked unconscious and suffered long-term injuries. We women make ourselves easy targets, when we set a purse in the child seat of a shopping basket, unprotected. I’ve seen purses open, with cash and credit cards in full view, and sometimes, the shopper has walked away from the basket to look for an item. The shopper is not paying attention, but you can bet, thieves are. They are waiting for such an opportunity. It’s almost an invitation for theft.

Nothing is foolproof, but with holiday shopping coming up soon, this is one safety tip that bears repeating:  Go ahead and put your purse in the child seat of the basket, but use the built-in seat belt to strap it in firmly. I carry a long key chain for when there is no seat belt. Any thief who tries to quickly lift your purse and run will be in for a surprise. But even when it is strapped in, be alert.

Another safety tip: when you get to your car and are emptying groceries into your trunk, a common habit is to put your purse in last. Thieves note this and watch for it. My sister lives in an upscale area where there is a nearly zero crime rate. Yet one day as she emptied her groceries into her trunk, a young male ran by and easily grabbed her purse and was gone. Shopping safety is always critical, and as the economy worsens, crime may escalate. Thieves are counting on you to be even more distracted at the holidays. Fight back by securing your purse or wallet.

By the way, if you live in a low-crime area, don’t let that lull you into false confidence. The police told my sister that thieves eventually take note of such an area, knowing that residents will be less watchful. Those in nearby towns may be willing to commute if it means finding unwary shoppers.


November Is the Best Time to Buy… What?

Readers Digest is kind enough to advise readers when it’s the best time to buy certain items. To save money on planned purchases, take a look at these upcoming deals.

November generally brings deals on:

  • Candy: Any candy that is Halloween themed is likely to be deeply discounted in November. For many bags of holiday-themed candy, once you open the outer bag, the holiday branding doesn’t even appear on the candy inside. Even if it does, the candy tastes just as good.
  • Gadgets: Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which might last a full week) are great times to buy TVs, small appliances, MP3s, and other gadgetry.
  • Free turkeys: Watch for grocery store offers that include a free turkey if you spend a certain amount.


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Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa