Advocacy Network Updates

As we come upon the close of our initial launch year we are very pleased with the progress and platform we have developed. To date we have saved members in excess of $6.3M which speaks volumes to the type of solution we have provided. With this type of service the most difficult hurdle is to identify and define the value offer. In total overview of membership offerings the results are very scattered. Many membership organizations have developed and maintained very poor reputations as to value proposition and the process of delivery. It is always a battle of perception when a company is involved in a service industry through membership subscription. We have worked extremely hard as an organization to not only create an exceptional value proposition but also focus on delivering extensive value added to the value proposition.

During this inaugural  year we have created the digital platform and provided the best educational material and content we could find. The message of Financial Victimization from the very beginning was a unique story line but communicating it to the public is and will continue to be a major hurdle. As in all communication the most important connection is through content. Financial Victimization is a $250B+ annual problem which cuts across all demographic groupings and especially places the senior market at extreme risk. The senior market is one of the fastest and long term growing demographic groups due to the baby boomer population. As it now stands over 10,000 people per day turn 65 and that is projected to continue through the year 2024. This creates a larger pool of potential victims as this group is also projected to control over 70% of all the wealth in the nation. The baby boomers will be passing a huge wealth pool to their heirs and those who are deviously promulgating scams and frauds are well aware of this potential wealth pool.

The other direct risk to all Americans is the constant financial threat of predatory sales tactics. There are many industries who promote manipulative and deceptive sales practices directly geared to take advantage of consumers, investors and business owners. Our work is fully structured to stop these abuses through awareness, education and content communication.

In order to provide our value proposition we have created the following dashboard of tools, materials and content.

  • We added the Financial Concierge platform in August of this year and continue to grow this platform out. The concept of the Financial Concierge was to position a professional individual advocate for the membership base. Our structure was created to develop a Financial Concierge in every county in the US (3300 total), and thus provide the one to one professional advocate relationship fro all members to take advantage of.
  • As the Founder and CEO of the Advocacy Network I strategically aligned with the National Financial Educators Council and became a certified Financial educator. This was a key to developing high quality Financial Literacy workshops to have an ongoing continual educational platform of both members and prospective members. We have found through research and development that one of the key factors in assuring consumers, investors and businesses on the successful elimination of Financial victimization was strong Financial Literacy education. The pure ability to make smart decisions about money is founded in a positive and continual education in Financial Literacy.
  • I am in the process of completing the certification for the National Association of Certified fraud examiners. This will allow for the Advocacy Network to always be in full compliance and awareness of the conditions and elements of fraud in all business industries along with the potential for investment education.
  • We have become members of the National Franchise brokers Association and will continue to receive the ongoing education and processing of information on Franchise opportunities. A major part of our education process for members is our “Retireless System” which is presented and followed up on by our Financial Concierges. Franchise and business development is one of the key components in the “Retireless System”
  • We have developed one of the strongest training and development programs in any industry for our Financial Concierge platform, part of that is recent application for CE credits for insurance professionals. Our commitment is to provide our members with the best advocate relationship available. Not only do our professionals commit to the level of fiduciary protection they go well beyond that and truly commit to being personal advocates for all members they serve. “YOUR Best Interest Is OUR Only Concern” is not simply a motto its an integrity based commitment and promise to all our members.
  • We have started to develop a forum “I might have been scammed when..” where victims of financial abuse may anonymously share information, stories and thoughts with one another. Research has proven that less than 17% of financial victims report their victimization. As such they remain psychologically and financially abused which continues the downward cycle of continually making poor decisions about money.
  • Our workshops are functionally prepared for regular monthly live sessions. We also have our webinar and coaching platform set up for continual membership education. This will be scheduled and provided to all members on regular email basis in 2017.
  • When you add up the value of all our education and functional advocate based services you are receiving well over $4500 of annual value. All of this is provided in our premium membership which is $9.95 per month. That’s about 35 pennies per day. as a member you will be fully inoculated and insulated against all forms of financial victimization. There are no unknowns and certainly no cracks you could ever fall through. We are committed to the most prevalent information and deliver in a format we like to refer to as “The right information, at the right time in the right circumstance all the time”

I hope this gives you a clear awareness of our value proposition and how we deliver that value. This is truly a unique membership and the only one which will fully and proactively protect you from becoming a financial victim.

Sign up today, get started and let’s discuss how to develop the best protection vehicle for you, your family and all your associations in life.

 

Gratitude Overcomes Adversity

As Thanksgiving is once again upon us, I thought a message about gratitude would be timely. Sadly, many people only focus on gratitude due to a holiday. I know that’s better then nothing, yet the real gift of gratitude is a daily event. Missing this makes life so much more difficult.

Adversity is necessary for growth. Without challenges, obstacles and hurdles we as individuals would never grow. As a society we would also remain stagnant and in essence largely fail on a consistent basis. Yet America has always risen above its challenges and stood out in the world arena. We are a fervently successful nation, and yet we have lost our way in many regards. Presently the nation seems to seek avoidance of adversity. Suddenly adversity and challenges are perceived to be a bad thing. Sadly this avoidance is direct causation for lack of growth. We no longer seek to be stretched beyond our comfort zones. In short we have become a lazy nation.

For those who still welcome and seek adversity for the benefits it brings with it, the healing and regenerative tool is gratitude. Being grateful is an everyday thing. I submit to you that gratitude is the path to abundant success. The process of being grateful is an attitude, its not some tangible vehicle. This is an attitude that accepts all challenges, obstacles and hurdles willingly. In this acceptance you are thankful for the opportunity to overcome, move forward and grow. Try being thankful for everything, not simply the good things and those times of wonder, start being thankful for the sadness that comes with adversity, the tragedy of mourning and saying goodbye to loved ones and friends. These are the moments of character revelation. All of us can be grateful and gleeful in times of success, winning brings no moments to overcome. In those moments anyone can have an attitude that exudes gratitude. (In reality there are those rare negative people who can’t even show gratitude in victory).

So, this Thanksgiving start fresh and recount the challenges, obstacles and hurdles that you have both overcome and presently face. Through those issues into the pool and be grateful and immensely thankful for them. Begin to throw up thanks in all scenarios and situations. This helps to make the wonderful aspects of your life which are taken for granted to come clearly into focus. You can now see the world and your small existence in terms of happiness and wonder for all the events, things and purposes of your life. You can be truly thankful in all moments and you will climb higher, reach further and accomplish more then you ever dreamed possible.

May you and your loved ones, friends and acquaintances enjoy an abundantly blessed Thanksgiving for which you can be incredibly grateful for!

YOUR Best Interest Is OUR Only Concern

How to avoid senior scams

What follows is a commentary from the Gettysburg Times. It seems this is from a financial services professional discussing their experience with the cesspool of financial victimization. This problem is severe but it is totally disgraceful when it focuses fully upon senior citizens. The baby boomers have been the most productive and profitable demographic society in the history of the US. Business owners, Executives, Union workers, private market employees and Government workers all comprise the productivity of the baby boomer movement. Now that population is reaching the retirement years when they will no longer produce but they will reap the rewards of their financial sowing. As a society we cannot allow predators to compromise this boomer society. We need to proactive protect all citizens from financial victimization and we need to provide special consideration to the most financially self-sufficient citizens in our society “Our baby Boomers”

Here is that commentary:

The greatest financial scams are perpetrated on the most vulnerable group in America, aging senior citizens who are slowly losing mental capacity. The aging process invokes emotions of fear, consequently triggering emotions of anger or greed because the mental capacity to control these emotions with logic is impaired. Emotions are the trigger switches that sales people use, and scam artists represent the magnification of the dark side of a salesperson. Scam artists are corrupt sales people who try to illegally manipulate money from you. Financial salespeople can manipulate money from you, too, but they stay within the boundaries of the law. As we or our parents’ age, we must be aware of these risks and develop a fail-safe plan to minimize the occurrence of this nightmare scenario.

First step, be aware of the potential of being scammed if you are a senior citizen, or discuss this issue with aging parents. During my 35-year career, I have seen some horrifying cases in which thousands-even hundreds of thousands-of dollars were lost as a result of senior scam abuse. I can also tell many heartwarming stories in which the threat of being scammed was minimized or mitigated because of good proactive planning

 

SEC Probes Wells Fargo Over Sales-Practice Disclosures

November 3, 2016

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing whether Wells Fargo & Co violated rules around investor disclosures and other matters relating to its recent sales tactics scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The SEC sent requests to Wells Fargo for documents in recent weeks, following senators’ calls in late September for the SEC to investigate whether the San Francisco-based lender misled investors while allegedly engaged in illegal sales practices, the newspaper said, citing a source.

Wells Fargo veteran chairman and chief executive officer, John Stumpf, abruptly departed last month bowing to pressure over the bank’s sales tactics that have damaged its reputation and put Wall Street under renewed scrutiny.

The misconduct, carried out by low-level branch staff to meet internal sales targets, shattered the bank’s folksy image and a raft of federal and state investigations followed.

The company in September, agreed to pay $190 million in penalties and customer payouts to settle the case involving the creation of credit, savings and other accounts without customers’ knowledge. About $5 million will directly go to customers, many of whom might have paid a small fee on the unwanted accounts.

A spokesman for the SEC declined to comment. Wells Fargo also declined to comment.

This article was provided by Reuters.

Students fall prey to scammers, check fraud

Here is more evidence that financial victimization is not a one demographic risk. It is a risk that all Americans are exposed to, in fact this story has it all, the type of fraud, the victim base that is being targeted, the lack of reporting the victimization, the lack of financial literacy education, all the hot points are here:
NKU US Bank sees $30K in check fraud since 2015 (Northern Kentucky University)

Matt Sexton, Managing Editor
October 31, 2016
Danielle Moore has heard NKU students swear to her they would never fall for a scam.
“They say, ‘I’m too smart for that,’” Moore said. “The students say, ‘I would never fall for that.’
“Guess what? Twenty of your fellow classmates fell for it in the last year.”
The assistant manager of the US Bank branch at Northern Kentucky University saw more than $30,000 in check fraud come across her desk in University Center since June 2015.
She’s watched dozens of students wreck their financial future thanks to check fraud, often associated with employment fraud. She said it’s a growing problem that continues to get worse.
“We’ve had parents call and say, ‘My daughter fell for a $1,500 scam in the mail. What do we do?’” Moore said. “Well, it’s going to charge off, and you’re going to owe us money, and we can try to file the dispute and file the police report. We can try to get it on a repayment plan and hopefully you’ll win the dispute and get the money back anyway.
“But who has $3,000 to $4,000 in their pocket to fix this problem?”
Moore is begging students to heed her warnings.
“I wish the students would listen,” Moore said. “We really do. It’s scary. Super scary.”
Targeting students
Moore is begging students to heed her warnings.
“I wish the students would listen,” Moore said. “We really do. It’s scary. Super scary.”
Targeting students

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Moore said many students don’t have experience managing their finances. In addition, students are often looking for part-time work that fits into their busy schedules. Moore said it makes them perfect targets for scammers.
“The details are always unique in each circumstance, but it always involves this phony check as a result of unusual working arrangements,” Moore said. “Typically you get a large check upfront – $1,000, $2,500 – before you’ve even worked. You get this money, you deposit the check in your account, you send them a portion of it — or one of the scams was actually to buy electronics with a portion of it.

Moore said many students don’t have experience managing their finances. In addition, students are often looking for part-time work that fits into their busy schedules. Moore said it makes them perfect targets for scammers.
“The details are always unique in each circumstance, but it always involves this phony check as a result of unusual working arrangements,” Moore said. “Typically you get a large check upfront – $1,000, $2,500 – before you’ve even worked. You get this money, you deposit the check in your account, you send them a portion of it — or one of the scams was actually to buy electronics with a portion of it. “Then, send a portion of it or those electronics somewhere, and you keep a small portion of it. That just doesn’t sound right.”

Moore said one of the biggest red flags is the scammers will specify how they want students to deposit the checks – usually through either mobile banking or into ATMs.

“No employer is going to say, ‘We want you to deposit your check with mobile banking’ or ‘I want you to deposit your check with an ATM,’” Moore said. “We want to see the checks. We would love for all the students to bank with us, but that’s not the issue. I want students to feel comfortable to come in and say, ‘I got this check in the mail. I want you to take a look at this.’”

Scammers take advantage of the ability to get some of the deposited check immediately, which allows them to obtain good money from a bad check. This happened in one of the latest scams reported to the bank, Moore said.

“They asked him once the check cleared, which is the next day, most banks will give you $200 available immediately, the rest will clear the next business day,” Moore said. “What’s happening is the scammers are saying, ‘Hey, go buy this computer supply and mail this information here.’ Why would you ever for a business need to mail supplies?

“We’re used to hearing about elderly abuse. This is student abuse.”

A brutal lesson in finance

Many students don’t have a strong foundation of financial skills, which is something Moore would like to see change.

“Students are here for their education, but the financial part, no one has taught them in high school,” Moore said. “No one has taught them in college. They can’t fill out withdraw and deposit slips. I understand that it’s not a college-level class, but this is such a bigger deal.”

Moore said even though these cases are starting to show up in police reports, not enough is being done to help educate students on financial issues.

“That’s awesome, but we’re not talking about it,” Moore said. “We’re not doing anything. I would come talk to any class. That’s what we’re here for – to help.”

Falling victim to fraud is something that can affect students for the rest of their financial future, Moore warns.

“We would love to not have issues and not have losses,” Moore said. “This will follow you. They’re graduating and they’re like, ‘I want to buy a car out of college and I want to do this out of college.’ Guess what? Credit’s screwed. It’s one big fraud scam, and it’s getting worse.”

Career Services can help

Just because a job shows up in a student’s NKU email inbox, that doesn’t make it a legitimate offer.

Amanda Meeker, the associate director of NKU Career Services, helps students find legitimate opportunities.

“For students, it’s tough, because they get emails from us, they get emails from our legitimate employers, but they also get emails from anyone anywhere,” Meeker said. “It’s tough from an email for a student to discern, did this come from career services? Did this come from somewhere where my email is on a distribution list? Did this come from a robot – a program that is somehow generating these?”

Meeker said students can reach out to Career Services if they receive a job offer that doesn’t seem quite right.

“We encourage any students, if they see something and they aren’t sure, they can forward us the email,” Meeker said. “Sometimes students will bring in their phone or a copy of the email and say, ‘Can you look at this? Are you familiar with this company?’ Through our database, we can often see at least the email domain that companies use.

“A lot of times we can help the student discern, ‘Well, if they’re offering you $50,000 to work from home stuffing envelopes, that doesn’t seem quite right.’

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Both Meeker and Moore emphasized that businesses won’t pay you for work you haven’t done. Also, the location of job interviews can also be a red flag.

“No one will ever pay you for work you haven’t done yet,” Meeker said. “Maybe paid training, but still you go to the training and later you get paid. It’s very unusual to have an employment interview that’s not at that place of employment, which you should be able to Google and find. If someone is asking you to do an interview at the library or at a Starbucks, that’s very unusual.”

Meeker agreed with Moore that the education of students is not keeping up with the scammers that students are up against.

“I think year-by-year, these scammers are getting more and more sophisticated,” Meeker said. “Yet, there is not necessarily a place built into the curriculum to teach people about identifying these scams. I’m not sure that the education about how to use the internet is keeping up with how sophisticated these scammers are.”

One thing that makes these job offers seem legitimate to students is they receive the offers in their NKU email.

“I think students think any job that comes to me in my NKU email about a job must be from Career Services. That’s not necessarily true,” Meeker said. “I can look up any student’s email address in the directory online. If you’re not sure if it came from Career Services, bring it down. Email it to us and say, ‘Did you all send this?’

“Also, I want to know about it, so that I can tell students, ‘No, I’ve seen this email and it’s not real.’”

Not just job offers

Scammers are now moving on from employment scams and targeting students in other ways.

“We had a student at Xavier fall for a scam,” Moore said. “She went into the branch manager last Christmas and said, ‘So, I think I did something wrong. They sent me an email saying I got a $7,000 scholarship.’ So this is a new one. The branch manager said, ‘What did you give them?’ She said, ‘My account number, my routing number and my name.’ They got a new account open for her before they could do anything on it.”

Moore said when students receive money they didn’t apply for, they should be immediately suspicious.

“Did she apply for the scholarship? No,” Moore said. “Who is going to send you money if you didn’t apply for the scholarship? If you come to us and you know you just did something you shouldn’t do, we can try and fix it and resolve it. Sometimes it’s too late.”

Police looking into suspicious job offers

While not every fraud case ends up being reported to NKU police, enough cases have been reported for the department to issue a warning on its Facebook page.

Lieutenant John Gaffin, interim chief of the NKU police department, wants students to reach out to the department if they receive something suspicious.

“We really prefer that they call us,” Gaffin said. “That way we can send somebody out and evaluate it. One of the things that we do is, local police officers have jurisdiction in the county and in the state for certain crimes, but these things almost always cross state lines and even internationally. So what we do is we collect all the information that we can.”

While NKU police may not be able to see a pattern locally for a scam, regional and federal authorities can help identify if it is part of a larger scam operation.

“If somebody physically mailed a check, we’ll call the postal inspector,” Gaffin said. “If it’s strictly internet-based, we’ll call the FBI. We provide them with the information that we have. Sometimes they have a bigger-picture view of it than we do. Sometimes it goes bigger than what we have the limited view of with our resources.”

Gaffin said this is another opportunity to help not only protect students but to educate them as well.

“We thought it was a good time to encourage people to be on guard,” Gaffin said. “Be extra vigilant with this type of specific incident. That’s one of the unique roles we have here on campus is to be educators and teachers, and that was a good teaching point.”

Moore emphasized that while the police can help with these fraud cases, security begins with each individual student.

“You don’t share your email. You don’t share your social security. You don’t share your PIN number,” Moore said. “You don’t give somebody your debit card. It’s opening you up to so much. The only reason we can try to fight it here is because we’re the campus bank here, and I’m seeing the losses come across my desk.

“That’s not other losses within US Bank. That’s not other losses at Fifth Third, or at the credit unions, and everywhere else. It’s way bigger than this. If talking about this is helping, that’s all I can do.”

The Advocacy Network is much more then a simple protection platform, its a safe haven for all victims. We have the answers and all the solutions for full protection, we have the safety of an anonymous forum to discuss all potential and actual victim experiences, blended in with alerts and good behavioral psychological awareness. Where could you possibly get this level of safety, protection and emotional support for just 35 cents a day, if you are ignoring this $250B problem and risk you are exposing yourself and your loved ones to unnecessary financial losses. Make the smart decision about money today and become a member. What are YOU waiting for?

YOUR Best Interest Is OUR Only Concern!