A Fishy CD Ad

On today’s show, we talk about a fishy CD ad.  It reminds us if things sound too good to be true, they probably are.

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Recently, the Federal Reserve reduced short term interest rates, again. And this move impacts savers in a big way. Earlier in the year, we were able to find short term CD’s—meaning 1 year or less—with an annual yield of 2.3% or higher.

Since then we’ve seen those rates drop significantly. The national average annual yield for 6 month CD’s is 0.91%. The highest annual yield reported is 1.85% to 1.9%.  If you are a saver, this low-interest-rate environment is awful. CD buyers are begging for any kind of yield right now.

A Fishy CD Ad

Recently, a client asked us about an ad he saw in a newspaper in Myrtle Beach. The advertised rate for a CD was over 3.5%. That’s almost 4 times the national average. And it is nearly double the highest reported rate by bankrate.com.

An ad like this is going to get people’s attention.

But things like this also make the alarms go off in our head. What is this company doing that allows them to offer a CD with this kind of yield? So we did a little digging, and to no surprise things look a bit suspicious.

1.  It’s Not A Bank Running The Ad

The first thing of note, this isn’t a bank advertising this. Brokerage firms have access to FDIC insured CD’s. And at times those rates are better than what local banks offer. But, when the advertised rate is this much larger?  It raised an eyebrow.

2.  An Insurance Agency Advertises This.

The second thing which got our attention: The company running the ad primarily sells insurance products. And this made us dig a little deeper.

We found this gimmick has been around for a few years. Here is how it works.

The Gimmick

The agency has an ad for a 3.5% 6 month CD. You want to invest $10,000 in one. The agency buys a CD for 1.3%. After 6 months, the bank issuing the CD pays you $65. The agency then pays you $110. You get your 3.5% yield.

A Fishy CD Ad

CAUTION! High Pressure Sales Tactics Ahead

For that $110, the insurance agency gets a captive audience with a yield-hungry, conservative saver. Then they use high-pressure sales tactics for annuities and other insurance products.

Ads like this aren’t necessarily a scam.  But the tactics push ethical boundaries. These agencies design these ads to get your attention and get you in the door. You see, they’ll only talk to you about this in person. And when they have you sitting in front of them, they can put on the full court press to try and sell you something else.

Many times, what they are selling is not always in your best interest. So, if you see an ad like this, be careful. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if you are in doubt, talk to an advisor you know and trust.

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Do you have a question about what’s happening in the world of finance or investing?  Is there a topic that has you curious?  We’d love to hear from  you.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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