Monthly Tips October 2023

Monthly Tips

October 2023


TIP 1 FinCen Alert – “Pig Butchering”

Financial exploitation continues to grow as an industry, and the activities of scammers grow more disturbing as well. An alert was released last month by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to raise awareness of a scam called “pig butchering”. A variation of the more well-known romance scam, with a cryptocurrency twist, this con has been refined into stages, with the victims being referred to by the scammers as livestock, being “fattened up” and “led to slaughter”. The promise of cryptocurrency returns too good to be true is bad enough, but the scammers are also adding in personal touches, building relationships via social channels and on the phone, and may even be using artificial intelligence to automate some of the personal touch creation. Worse still, the alert points to the problem that some of those doing the outreach are actually victims themselves of human trafficking in Southeast Asia, being controlled by criminal organizations. The full alert is available here.

This alert has 15 red flags for banks, but individuals can also make themselves aware of red flags to look out for regarding scammers. One should be cautious when it comes to sending cryptocurrency, especially if it’s to someone you haven’t met in person. You can ask your banker if they think it’s suspicious too. For more conventional signs of financial exploitation, check out our Watch Your Wallet brochure.


TIP 2 Lump Sums For Retirement?

Annuity or lump sum? Many people might think that question concerns lottery payouts, which doesn’t affect very many people. For some people with pension plans, that decision isn’t just in dreamland. There are reports that, with interest rates on the rise, the number of companies offering a lump sum instead of a pension may be rising.

In an actuarial sense, the lump sum and the pension benefit are equivalent, so many personal factors should be considered when faced with that decision. Read more about it in our latest blogpost: Is a Lump Sum Distribution the Right Decision For Me?


TIP 3 Estate Planning Awareness Week

This week is National Estate Planning Awareness week, and we hope that you are among the minority that already has an estate plan in place. If you do, now is a great time to revisit the plan and make adjustments if assets, accounts, or beneficiaries have changed since the plan was drafted.

If you are among the majority of Americans without a will, do your loved ones a favor by getting started today. Estate planning is not only for the rich, or elderly. It can minimize the effects of delay and taxes when it comes to wealth transfer, providing for a smoother transition of assets. Most importantly, it can provide beneficiaries with the time they would prefer to spend on grieving rather than estate administration matters at a critical juncture.

At Garden State Trust Company, we can help you get started or provide a second opinion on your estate plan. It’s one of the things we specialize in. Please contact us for a consultation.


TIP 4 Halloween

It’s time for Halloween.

Whether you want to pick the fan favorite candy to give out (peanut butter cups for New Jersey), or introduce kids to unfamiliar flavors such as coconut, it’s also a good time to introduce some lessons about market dynamics. For example, you could supervise some candy trading, along with a lesson in gains from trade and how trading is not a zero-sum game. Or you could take the harsher route and teach your kids about taxes by taking 20% of their candy.  Perhaps the lesson for this year might be a little less conventional – waste not, want not. For some, early exposure to this lesson comes from pumpkins seeds and making them into a tasty snack instead of tossing them aside when carving a jack-o-lantern. Here’s one set of instructions on how to do so from Allrecipes.

We hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween this year!