The Psychology of Fraud

What makes this AARP video about fraud compelling is that a few brave seniors were willing to discuss how they were cheated out of a few thousand dollars, $20,000, even $300,000.

With the baby boom population aging at the same time that the Internet has become a haven for hackers, scammers, and invasions of privacy, experts predict that the incidence of online and other fraud against the elderly will continue to increase in coming years. Some researchers have begun to explore the topic of fraud and aging, with one recent study showing that people become more vulnerable to fraud as they age and experience natural cognitive decline.

The seniors’ testimonials in the video, produced by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, demonstrate how con artists’ strategies tap into our deepest emotional needs.  “These tactics are so powerful, and [scammers] use them with such intensity that it is difficult to say ‘no,’ ” said Anthony Pratkanis, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Pratkanis explains four psychological strategies that con artists use to lure people into surrendering their money: …Learn More

Like written on chalkboard

What Readers Liked in 2014

Since you are the best judges of what financial information is most useful, it’s a holiday tradition to feature readers’ favorite articles published during the year.

Please spread the word among family and friends about the most popular 2014 blogs, listed below, by “liking” Squared Away’s Facebook page.  Readers can also sign up for emails of each week’s headlines.

The  articles are ranked in the order of their total page views:

  • Retirees Live on Less. People who’ve already retired say adjustments are required to live on a smaller income.
  • Retirement Delayed to Pay the Mortgage. Paying off the house tilts many baby boomers’ decisions.
  • Retirement: a Good State of Mind. New research tries to resolve the conflicting evidence about whether retirement is good for you.
  • How Much For the 401(k)? Depends. Saving is critical in a 401(k) world.  The sooner Millennial workers start, the less painful saving will be.
  • Parents’ Longevity Sways Plans to Retire. If a parent dies suddenly, retirement becomes a higher priority. …
  • Learn More

Photo of a family around the thanksgiving dinner table

A Time for Family and Friends

The staff at Squared Away wish our readers a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends.
Our twice-weekly articles will resume next Tuesday.Learn More

trust

Trusting Souls Want Financial Advice

Here’s a conundrum: Americans struggle to save for retirement or reduce their credit card spending.  But only about one out of three seeks help with financial issues.

So what lies at the heart of our decisions about whether and when to seek help?  Trust.

In the video below, Angela Hung, director of the RAND Center for Financial and Economic Decision Making, describes research showing that people who trust financial institutions – the markets, financial services companies, brokers – are also more likely to ask for advice from a financial adviser or similar professional.

Further, Hung’s research found that people who trust the industry are also “more likely to be satisfied with their financial service provider.”  Watch the video for Hung’s explanation of an interesting experiment that explores the circumstances under which people follow the advice once it’s given to them.

Learn More

posters_array

Financial Guides Come in Many Languages

The federal government has added two Spanish-language guides to its multilingual library printed in languages ranging from French to Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.

The Spanish guides (previously available in English) – “Money Smart para Adultos Mayores” (“Money Smart for Older Adults”) and “Cómo Administrar el Dinero de Otras Personas” (“Managing Someone Else’s Money”) – teach seniors and their caregivers how to spot scams and frauds and help caregivers to understand their financial duties.

They are all free of charge and published by the Office for Older Americans in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Other topics also appear in the CFPB’s online table of contents, which permits consumers and financial planners to search by language or by subjects including money management, credit, and mortgages.

Booklets in Chinese and other languages explain the safest ways to send money back home. Mortgage booklets are available in Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Tagalog, and Spanish. They explain borrower’s rights, including the additional requirements for lenders’ disclosures to borrowers put in place in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown, which also affected immigrant neighborhoods. The Spanish booklets include one on reverse mortgages for retirees.

The library’s table of contents is available here – it requires clicking around to find out what’s available in each language.Learn More

Videos Critique Active Stock Investing

This is the sixth video featured in a series of seven that are worth watching.

The new series, “How to Win the Loser’s Game,” takes viewers on an in-depth tour of the financial industry landscape while managing not to be dull.  It includes a history of academic research in the finance field and examines the issue of paying high fees for active investment managers.

The big message in the above video has also been covered on this blog: it’s virtually impossible for active managers to consistently outperform the overall market’s return. The solution: buy passive mutual funds and diversify. The evidence presented in the videos, sometimes by academic giants in the field, is compelling.

Click here to watch the remaining videos, which are produced by sensibleinvesting.tv, a non-profit founded by a U.K. financial company.Learn More

Today’s Savings Rate Half of 1970s Rate

In the 1970s, Americans saved about 12 percent of their after-tax income.  Today, that’s plummeted to less than 6 percent.

Yet saving is in everyone’s interest.

A new video produced by The Atlantic magazine, “Why Americans Are So Bad at Saving Money,” blames our savings apathy on three factors: math (the lower one’s income, the less people save); psychology (spending money is more fun); and envy (keeping up with the Joneses).

The video doesn’t fully explain why this is an American problem.  But it’s accessible and thought-provoking. For example, the narrator notes that much of the national conversation is about wealth – taxing it, measuring its disparities, winning it in the stock market.

We don’t expend a lot of energy talking about what builds wealth – saving – or how to encourage it.Learn More

12345...