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Be A Savvy Senior: Know the Warning Signs of Elder Fraud

Just browse through the latest true crime documentaries on your preferred streaming network and you’ll see that people of all ages and income levels are vulnerable to financial scammers. Unfortunately, as we get older, certain factors put us at greater risk. Social isolation, recent loss of a spouse or close family member, diminished cognitive abilities, and accumulated wealth can make those over age especially attractive to fraudsters.

According to the FBI, there was a 74 percent increase in losses reported by victims over age 60 in 2021 compared with losses reported by the same age group in 2020. To keep yourself and loved ones safe from senior scams, ask yourself these questions before you transfer money.

 Is there an urgency attached to the request for funds? Government agencies, well-known companies, and banks don’t typically ask for immediate money transfers. If you find yourself being rushed to provide cash as soon as possible, start with the assumption that the request isn’t legitimate. One way to do this is to call the institution back at a phone number you’ve used before or that you find on its website, not the contact information in the request.

Don’t give out personal information or verify an authentication code to anyone who called you, regardless of who they claim to be or what phone number appears on your screen. Even if the urgent request seems to come from a close friend or family member, you’ll want to call that person to verify their identity and confirm the need for money.

 Does the method of payment make it impossible to recover your funds (if necessary)? If you’re asked to send money by mailing cash, gift cards, or prepaid cards, or transferring bitcoin, those are all red flags. Once such funds are sent they can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get back. Another sign of a scam might be a person requesting money and instructing you to pay a third party.

For example, a fraudster may claim to be from the IRS but ask you to mail cash to an individual at a residential address, claiming the person is an attorney for the IRS. A con artist in a romance scam might ask for funds to be sent to someone they claim is a personal assistant or an accountant. Involving a third party makes the transaction harder to trace.

Does this transfer raise any alarms with your financial advisor? If someone contacts you and says you owe them money and the rationale isn’t clear to you, contact your financial advisor as a trusted resource to help you determine whether the request is valid.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions regarding a request for money, there’s a chance you could be the victim of a scam. Depending on your specific situation, consider taking these steps:

  • Stop communicating with the requestor immediately.
  • If you did send any checks or wire transfers, contact your financial institution and ask if they can stop payment or recall a wire transfer.
  • If you sent payment through the mail, contact the carrier service you used to report the fraud and ask if they can stop delivery. (A tracking number is helpful in this type of scenario.)
  • Contact your local police.
  • Report the incident to ic3.gov (the FBI) or the Federal Trade Commission through their online reporting portals.
  • Change your email and online banking passwords.
  • Initiate a credit freeze through the major credit bureaus.
  • Stay on high alert for subsequent scams. Once a person becomes a victim of fraud, other criminals might target the same individual from a different email address or phone number.
  • If you continue to get fraudulent calls and emails, consider changing your email or phone number.

As we get older and potentially more vulnerable, we hope to be surrounded by people we can trust. But senior scams are unfortunately on the rise. Your best protection against elder fraud is to be aware of warning signs; talk to loyal family, friends, and advisors about financial issues; and thoroughly vet any party requesting funds from you.

© 2022 Commonwealth Financial Network®

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer. Third party links are provided to you as a courtesy and are for informational purposes only. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these websites.

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A Guide to Benefits When Changing Jobs

If you’re changing jobs, you probably have a lot on your mind. As you wrap up work with your previous employer and prepare for your new role, it can be easy to let important benefits-related decisions fall by the wayside. If that happens, you could miss a limited opportunity to sign up for new benefits or miss out on making wise changes to your plans. To stay on track financially during a career transition, be sure to review the status of your retirement accounts and other valuable employee benefits.

Qualified Retirement Plans

Many employers offer qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts. (“Qualified” means that these plans qualify for tax advantages per IRS rules.) When transitioning to a new job, you’re entitled to keep the vested balance in your qualified retirement plan, including contributions and earnings. You’re also entitled to keep any employer contributions that have vested according to your employer’s schedule.

What can you do with the money? You have several options:

  • Leave the funds in your current employer’s plan if your vested balance exceeds $5,000. If the balance is less than $5,000, the plan could require that you roll over or distribute your assets.
  • Roll over the funds to an individual IRA or, if allowed, to your new employer’s plan.
  • Withdraw the funds and pay any taxes due along with any applicable penalties. (It’s wise to carefully consider any decision to withdraw and spend your retirement savings.)

Accumulation rights. If you wish to roll over the funds, consider the accumulation rights you may be giving up by switching to a different plan. Accumulation rights offer shareholders the potential for reduced commissions when purchasing additional fund shares. If you have such rights with your current plan, they could become important if you plan to purchase a sizable amount of shares.

Potential penalties and fees. It’s also important to consider the possibility of premature distribution penalties, as well as any fees and expenses a new plan may impose. If you’ve separated from service in the year you turn 55, or at any later age, any assets distributed from your old employer’s plan aren’t subject to the standard 10 percent penalty. Once funds are rolled into an IRA or a new plan, however, the 10 percent penalty may apply to subsequent distributions if you’re younger than 59½ at the time, unless you can claim an exception.

Rolling funds over to an IRA. Factors to consider before taking this action include:

Advantages

  • IRAs may provide more investment choices than employer plans.
  • IRA assets can be allocated to different IRAs. There is no limit on how many direct transfers you can make from one of your IRAs to another IRA in a year. This means you can easily move money between IRAs if you’re dissatisfied with an account’s performance or administration.
  • Although 401(k) distribution options depend on the plan terms, IRAs offer more flexibility.
  • IRAs have more premature penalty exceptions than 401(k) plans.

Disadvantages

  • When you turn 72, you must start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from pretax IRAs, whereas you may be able to defer them in a 401(k) until the year you retire if your employer allows for it. (There are no RMDs from Roth IRAs during the account owner’s lifetime.)
  • IRA account expenses, such as trading charges or annual fees, may be higher than qualified retirement plans.
  • When you roll funds over from a 401(k) to a Roth IRA, taxes will need to be paid on the pretax contributions; however, any future distributions from the Roth IRA may be tax free if IRS requirements are met.

Rolling funds over to your new employer’s plan. Employer plans offer the following advantages:

  • If you intend to work beyond age 72, participation in the employer’s qualified plan means you can typically delay the first RMD until the year you retire if the plan allows. (An exception applies if you own 5 percent or more of the business offering the plan.)
  • Employer 401(k) plans may receive greater creditor protection than IRAs. Typically, employer plan funds cannot be used to satisfy most creditors, while the federal protection for IRA funds is more limited.

Stock Options and Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans

Prepare a list of any stock options you’ve received from your employer. Often, vested options expire within a specified time frame when you leave a job. Deciding whether to exercise your options depends on your financial situation and whether your options are “in the money” (i.e., the exercise price is lower than the market value).

Nonqualified deferred compensation plans allow executives to defer a portion of their compensation and the associated taxes until the deferred income is paid. With these plans, leaving your employment may trigger the need to take distributions in lump-sum or installment payments. You should be aware that any distributions will affect your taxable income.

Life Insurance and Disability Insurance

Employer-provided life insurance remains active only while you are employed. Ask if you have the option to convert the policy to an individual policy offered by the same insurance provider. If you do switch to an individual policy, however, the premium will likely increase. In some cases, it may be time to evaluate policy options from other companies. If you’re in between jobs, for instance, you may want to consider an individual policy that won’t be affected by employment changes.

Health Insurance

Your health insurance will expire once you leave an employer. COBRA may be a good option if you need interim health insurance coverage. Keep in mind, however, that your premium payments will increase when you opt for COBRA coverage. Shopping for an individual health insurance policy that meets your needs could reduce your premiums.

New Benefits Review

Once you start your new job, take time to understand the new benefit options, including health insurance, disability insurance, and employer savings plans. It’s important to review how the new employer retirement plan options fit into your overall savings plan, including any employer matches. Remember to fill out beneficiary designations for insurance policies and saving plans—and review those designations periodically. Finally, if your salary has changed, it’s a good time to determine whether you should adjust your tax withholding and investment elections.

 This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer. 

 If you are considering rolling over money from an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), you may have the option of leaving the money in your current employer-sponsored plan or moving it into a new employer-sponsored plan. Benefits of leaving money in an employer-sponsored plan may include access to lower-cost institutional class shares; access to investment planning tools and other educational materials; the potential for penalty-free withdrawals starting at age 55; broader protection from creditors and legal judgments; and the ability to postpone required minimum distributions beyond age 72, under certain circumstances. If your employer-sponsored plan account holds significantly appreciated employer stock, you should carefully consider the negative tax implications of transferring the stock to an IRA against the risk of being overly concentrated in employer stock. Your financial advisor may earn commissions or advisory fees as a result of a rollover that may not otherwise be earned if you leave your plan assets in your old or a new employer-sponsored plan and there may be account transfer, opening, and/or closing fees associated with a rollover. This list of considerations is not exhaustive. Your decision whether or not to roll over your assets from an employer-sponsored plan into an IRA should be discussed with your financial advisor and your tax professional.

© 2022 Commonwealth Financial Network®

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To Our Customers and Community

Updated March 7, 2022 

Masks are no longer required to visit our offices.

The safety and good health of our clients, employee-owners and our community continue to be our top priority.

We know that comfort levels will vary and regardless of our individual vaccination status we are happy to wear a mask when meeting with you if you prefer.

We are happy to meet with you in person, talk by phone or set up a Zoom. Our office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

We will update this page as needed.

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Knitting for a Cause – Program Continues in 2022

woman at table with knitted items
Kimberly Edgar of Allen Insurance and Financial poses with some of the hats and yarn donated through the company’s Chemo Caps for Kids program. Donations of yard and knitting time are always welcome.

Allen Insurance and Financial is pleased to announce its continued support for the Chemo Caps for Kids initiative sponsored by Commonwealth Cares Fund Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity founded by Allen’s Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer, Commonwealth Financial Network®. Chemo Caps for Kids provides hand-knit and crocheted hats to children undergoing cancer treatment.

Allen Insurance and Financial participates in the creation of these caps and invites the community to join the effort. Kimberly Edgar of Allen’s Camden office is coordinating the program locally.

Many of the Midcoast knitters who have helped have remained anonymous, so we can’t thank them publicly, said Edgar. But we can reach out to the knitting community, always so generous, and let them know we’d love their continued support. “

Anyone interested in donating yarn or knitting time to this project can call Kimberly Edgar at 236-4311. Allen Insurance and Financial has been involved in this program since 2014.

The Chemo Caps for Kids program has sent more than 10,000 caps to children’s hospitals across the U.S., with knitters in Maine and across the country using their talents to help kids who are in treatment. Some of hats from Maine have been distributed to hospitals in New England as well as to places such as Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

ABOUT COMMONWEALTH CARES
Commonwealth Cares provides contributions of time, talent, and financial support to a wide range of philanthropic efforts aimed at relieving human suffering, promoting social and economic growth, and sustaining and protecting our planet’s resources. All operating and administrative expenses for Commonwealth Cares are borne by Commonwealth. One hundred percent of every dollar contributed goes directly to those in need.

ABOUT ALLEN INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL
Serving clients in Midcoast Maine and around the world since 1866, Allen Insurance and Financial is an employee-owned insurance, employee benefits, and financial services company with offices in Rockland, Camden, Belfast, Southwest Harbor and Waterville. Call 800-439-4311. Online: AllenIF.com and on Facebook.

Allen Insurance  and Financial, 31 Chestnut St., Camden, 04843. 207-236-8376. Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed Insurance products and services are separate and not offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.

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Accepting Applications for Internships for Summer 2022

Allen Insurance and Financial is accepting applications for its 2022 summer internship program, which offers a 12-week immersion into the company’s three insurance divisions (personal, business and health) and its financial planning/investment management group.

Applications from college juniors and seniors will receive priority review; all applicants will be considered. This is a paid position, based in Camden.

To receive a copy of the job description and start the application process, please email Jill Lang at email hidden; JavaScript is required.  Interns should expect to start work in late May or early June 2022 and work through mid- to late August.

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AIO’s Second Annual FILL THE STRAND Event, Keeping Neighbors Fed and Warm

On Monday, January 17, 2022 AIO Food and Energy Assistance will host its second FILL THE STRAND food and funds drive to benefit AIO’s Food Assistance, Energy Assistance, Weekend Meal, and Diaper Assistance Programs. This event challenges the community to fill every seat in the historic theater with bags of food and funds for AIO’s programs.

The 2021 Fill the Strand event raised more than $27,000 in support for AIO, filling the theater seats nearly 3 times. The goal for the second event is to raise $30,000. AIO is grateful to its partners and sponsors the Strand Theatre, Allen Insurance and Financial, First National Bank and First National Wealth Management, Rockport Steel and Fletcher and Michael McNaboe of City + Harbor Real Estate Group for their support of the event.

Coordinators would like to encourage community organizations, businesses, and residents to do food and fund drives within their groups, workplaces, and neighborhoods to help with the drive. The food and funds collected will go directly to AIO’s programs that support Knox County families. Any individuals or groups interested in holding a food drive within their group is asked to contact one of the coordinators listed below for details.

Monetary donations are welcome – and in fact your dollar goes further since AIO can purchase food through partners at a competitive price. Individuals can sponsor a bag at $25, which will fill one seat in the theater. Those interested in sponsoring a bag through a financial donation can make it online at www.aiofoodpantry.org/strand.

Non-perishable food with a current expiration date is appreciated (no glass please). AIO would be grateful for donations of the most needed items including: ready rice pouches, macaroni and cheese and pasta; cereal & oatmeal; pop-top canned foods and Chef Boyardee meals; single serving lunch items; kid-friendly snacks; 100% juice boxes; shelf stable milk; snacks (granola bars, peanut butter crackers, 6-pack raisins). Whether a monetary gift or food donation – your support will help the people in our community who need it the most.

“At the Strand, we’re thrilled to partner with AIO again in this creative effort! We believe in supporting the good work of other organizations throughout our community, and nothing is more important than helping to make services available to anyone in Knox County with a need for food and heat — especially in these extra-challenging times,” shares Jessie Davis, Executive Director of Friends of the Strand Theatre.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with AIO and the Strand Theatre on this unique project. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors,” said Mike Pierce, president of Allen Insurance and Financial.

“First National Bank is proud to support AIO’s Fill The Strand Event,” said Tony McKim, president and CEO. “We are grateful for the critical services AIO provides our neighbors in need in Knox County.”

The impact of this event is significant. “Last year’s event provided a tremendous amount of food when we needed it the most” said AIO executive director Joe Ryan. “Facing an even more challenging winter this year, we expect the needs within the community to be even greater. The Fill The Strand Event will provide much needed relief at exactly the right time.”

Food collection sites have been established at area businesses, including Allen Insurance & Financial offices (Rockland and Camden), The Strand Theater, First National Bank (Rockland branches), and AIO Food and Energy Assistance (Rockland). On January 17th volunteers will be at the Strand Theatre between 9:00-2:00pm to receive food and funds donations. For more information about the event and how you can participate please contact event coordinator Leila Murphy, email hidden; JavaScript is required. Event information can be found at www.aiofoodpantry.org/strand.

About AIO Food and Energy Assistance: For over 30 years AIO has provided critical food and heating assistance to Knox County families. Funding for AIO’s programs is needed more than ever as food insecurity in Knox County is projected to increase 46% overall. Knox County ranks among the highest food insecurity rate in the state. Child food insecurity is projected to reach 28% (a 52% increase). In 2021, AIO has supported 1547 individual households and has distributes nearly 400 meal kits each week during the school year. AIO’s Energy Assistance Program helps households with heating assistance or electrical disconnection prevention – which is critical as winter begins. Last winter AIO distributed 450 energy assistance vouchers, totaling $108,000 in support. The need for assistance is real and is not going away anytime soon given the ongoing pandemic.

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Why Contractors Should Consider Errors & Omissions Coverage

Krissy Campbell

By Krissy Campbell, CIC , ACSR 

Contractors face several potential hazards in today’s competitive and litigious society; customers are sometimes quick to allege negligence in a contractor’s work.

Contractors Errors & Omissions insurance, also referred to as E&O insurance, provides coverage for things such as damages arising out of unintentional faulty workmanship, installed products, recall of their work and impaired or defective property.

Questions about contractors E&O insurance? Ask Allen. We’re here to help.

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Donation to Pacific Engine Company

Dan Bookham and Jason Peasley of Rockport Fire Department
Dan Bookham of Allen Insurance and Financial presents a donation to Rockport Fire Chief Jason Peasley for use by the Rockport, Rockland and Camden fire departments to promote and offer free home fire inspections, smoke detectors and other help to residents of the three communities.

Allen Insurance and Financial recently delivered a donation to the Rockport, Camden and Rockland fire departments for their home inspection and smoke detector program.

“We’re in the business of helping people in our community protect their homes and their families – and so support for a program such as this, with its emphasis on health and safety, is very important to all of us at Allen,” said Dan Bookham, vice president at Allen Insurance and Financial. “This three-department cooperative effort is a project with an immediate impact and can continue to make a real difference.”

The donation is the result of a partnership between Allen Insurance and Financial and the community outreach program at MMG Insurance, the Presque Isle-based insurance carrier.

Chief Jason Peasley of the Rockport Fire Department says the program is ongoing, and donations will be accepted by any of the three departments at any time. He said that since the spring, 22 homes in the area have been inspected and fitted with smoke detectors – but that the need for this work continues.

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Trail Clearing With Georges River Land Trust at Weskeag Headlands Preserve

Holly and Jim Coombs, Daulton Wickenden, Weskeag River Preserve, trail clearing

Holly and Jim Coombs and  Daulton Wickenden help with trail clearing at the Weskeag River Preserve.

Last week some of our employee-owners joined Georges River Land Trust’s trail clearing efforts at the Weskeag Headlands Preserve in South Thomaston, one of the land trust’s newest properties.

The weather was perfect on Wednesday, May 19 for some quality time in the Maine outdoors. Some of the cutting, sawing and plant-pulling was strenuous work – but that’s what it takes to get a trail ready for its public debut. (We brought plenty of water and bug spray with us!)

Special thanks to GRLT Trail Coordinator Matt Bonner for his leadership and instruction. The GRLT website has all the info you need to learn about all their trails and preserves so you can plan your own outing − or get in touch to help with trail maintenance.

https://www.georgesriver.org/

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Allen Insurance and Financial Earns Diamond Achiever Award in Maine

Allen Insurance and Financial has been named Maine’s 2020 Diamond Achiever by Patriot Insurance Company. The annual award is presented to the highest performing agency based on set criteria including length of appointment, profitability, growth, and policy retention. Each year, the top Patriot Insurance Company agencies receive the “Diamond Achiever” award in recognition of their outstanding accomplishment.

Patriot Insurance Company President and CEO, Lincoln Merrill Jr. explains, “We are proud to present Allen Insurance and Financial with our Diamond Achiever award. Through their hard work and commitment to providing superior services, support and products, it is well deserved.”

This recognition exemplifies their commitment to providing quality, professional insurance products and services to our mutual clients.

The results achieved by the team at Allen Insurance and Financial helped the agency become one of the most successful among Patriot Insurance Company’s more than 115 independent agencies.

“The team at Allen Insurance and Financial is dedicated to providing the protection our clients need accompanied by the highest level of service. We are all very proud to be recognized by our colleagues at Patriot Insurance. Strong partnerships like ours benefit everyone in the industry − carriers, agents and clients, ” said Michael Dufour, executive vice president of Allen Insurance and Financial.

Allen Insurance and Financial has been licensed with Patriot Insurance Company since 1993 is recognized as one of the carrier’s Preferred independent insurance agency partners.

About Patriot Insurance

Patriot Insurance has been providing peace of mind for families and businesses in New England for over 50 years. Headquartered in Yarmouth, Maine, we are a regional carrier offering business, home, auto, life, and surety products backed by local, autonomous claims, loss control, and underwriting teams.

We work exclusively with independent agents who can give our customers the personal guidance and service they deserve. Since 2007, we have partnered with Frankenmuth Insurance, a longstanding company founded in Michigan in 1868. Patriot Insurance is financially sound, with an A.M. Best rating of “A” (Excellent).

Patriot Diamond Achiever Award